Post-9/11 Detainees’ Case Against U.S. Officials Tossed

A group of Muslims and Hindus detained on immigration charges after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks can’t sue senior U.S. officials over the conditions of their confinement because those individuals weren’t responsible, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson dismissed the constitutional claims against the Justice Department officials brought by eight men in Brooklyn, New York. He allowed the case to proceed against officials at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, who they accused of imposing illegally harsh conditions during their incarceration.

“They do not allege that the DOJ defendants intended that the MDC defendants create the punitive and abusive conditions in which the plaintiffs were detained,” Gleeson said in the opinion, referring to the U.S. Justice Department and the Brooklyn jail. “Nor do they allege that the DOJ defendants were even aware of those conditions.”

The men were arrested and detained under the government’s “hold-until-cleared policy” for Muslim and Arab immigration law violators, implemented in connection with terror investigations following the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the opinion Gleeson filed on Jan. 15.

The men alleged in the suit filed in April 2002 that they were generally subjected to 23-hour-a-day confinement, denial of sleep, “severe beatings to the point of unconsciousness,” excessive strip searches, and denial of medical care. They were incarcerated for as long as eight months, according to the complaint.

The case is Turkmen et al v. Ashcroft, 1:02-cv-02307, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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