LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The U.S. Embassy will protest to the government of the United Arab Emirates regarding the treatment of American citizen Naji Hamdan, who was severely tortured during the three months he was imprisoned by state security forces in the U.A.E.
Sean Cooper, chief consul at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said that, acting at Hamdan's request, the embassy will 'engage' U.A.E. officials 'on this most serious matter' when they return to work next week after the Muslim Eid holiday.
'These and other details provide strong evidence that U.S. officials not only sought Hamdan's arrest by a foreign government, but apparently participated in his interrogation and torture in violation of federal criminal law,' said Ahilan Arulanantham, director of immigrants' rights and national security for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Hamdan was charged and transferred to the Al Wathba prison late last month, only one week after the ACLU/SC filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, D.C. seeking his release from the custody of the United States.
'U.S. officials must now take every step possible to end the brutal treatment of this American citizen by a foreign government acting as our proxy, and ensure that he is not prosecuted based on evidence obtained through torture,' Arulanantham said.
Hamdan told his brother, Hossam Hemdan,(CQ) that his captors routinely beat him and kept him in a freezing underground room during portions of his months-long detention by U.A.E. state security forces. His torturers severely beat him on his back, legs, head, and the soles of his feet. The torturers sometimes kicked him in the location of his liver, knowing that he has a liver condition. On at least one occasion, they strapped his arms and legs down to an electric chair, while suggesting that they would use it. They deprived him of sleep by shining a bright spotlight on his face for hours at a time, and engaged in other abuses.
The torture was so severe that he often passed out from the pain, Hamdan told his brother. The agents also threatened to punish Hamdan's wife and family if he did not confess to their allegations that he had engaged in terrorist activity.
It is a crime under U.S. federal law - 8 U.S.C. 2340A -- for U.S. officials to engage in or conspire to commit acts of torture.
'This is a nightmare for Naji and for his whole family,' said Hossam Hemdan. 'People in the United States need to know that this is happening. It's terrible that an innocent U.S. citizen would be treated this way by his own government.'
Last week U.S. District Judge James Robertson ordered the U.S. government to respond to the ACLU/SC's habeas corpus petition to free Hamdan. The government must respond by mid-January.