Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

FBI sued over Ethiopian jailing

Amir Meshal in 2007
Mr Meshal says his constitutional rights were violated by the interrogations

An American man is suing the FBI for mistreatment while he was held in jail in Kenya and Ethiopia in 2007.

Amir Meshal was arrested on the Kenyan border as he fled Somalia after the ousting of the Islamist administration.

According to the lawsuit, FBI agents interrogated him there, saying he had received al-Qaeda training in Somalia.

Mr Meshal says he was then returned to Somalia and sent on to Ethiopia for three months where US agents threatened him with torture and death.

He repeatedly denied the allegations and was released in May 2007 and returned to the United States after media inquiries and protests from human rights groups.

American citizens abroad who seek refuge from hostilities deserve the assistance of their government in getting home safely
ACLU's Nusrat Choudhury

The US State Department said it formally protested at the time about Mr Meshal's removal from Kenya to Ethiopia, the Associated Press news agency reports.

In April 2007, the Ethiopia government admitted that it had detained 41 "terror suspects" captured in neighbouring Somalia.

It defended the action as part of the "global war on terror", but denied the detainees had been held incommunicado or were mistreated.

An FBI spokesman has said officials will not comment on the case.

In September, an Egyptian man received a $250,000 payout from the FBI because of the way he was treated following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Mr Meshal's lawsuit has been filed on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"American citizens abroad who seek refuge from hostilities deserve the assistance of their government in getting home safely," AP quotes ACLU lawyer Nusrat Choudhury as saying.

In recent years, Ethiopia has been a key American ally in the fight against al-Qaeda in East Africa.

It sent troops to Somalia in December 2006 to oust the Union of Islamic Courts, which had recently taken power.

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