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Los Angeles, California, May 5, 2008 – New torture claims have been leveled at two U.S. military contractors by a former Abu Ghraib “ghost” detainee who was wrongly imprisoned and later released without charge, according to a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles federal court by his U.S. legal team.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Emad Al-Janabi, a 43-year-old Iraqi blacksmith, who alleges that he was beaten and forced from his home by people in U.S. military uniforms and civilian clothing in September 2003. He was released from Abu Ghraib without charge in July 2004.
The defendants are CACI International Inc. (NYSE: CAI) and CACI Premier Technology, Inc., of Arlington, Va.; L-3 Communications Titan Corporation (NYSE: LLL), of San Diego, Calif.; and former CACI contractor Steven Stefanowicz, a Los Angeles resident known at Abu Ghraib as “Big Steve.”
According to the Complaint, Mr. Al-Janabi was:
• Subjected to physical and mental torture in sessions where the defendants acted as interrogators and translators;
• Transported to a detainee site in a wooden box and covered with a hood;
• Scarred on his face when his eyes were clawed by an interrogator;
• Exposed to a mock execution of his brother and nephew, and told by defendant translators that he would be executed or crushed by a helicopter or a tank;
• Hung upside down, with his feet chained to the steel slats of a bunk bed until he lost consciousness, and hung by his arms;
• Repeatedly deprived of food and sleep; and
• Threatened with dogs.
On Oct. 2, 2003, during a surprise inspection of Abu Ghraib, the International Committee of the Red Cross discovered Mr. Al-Janabi naked, chained and bruised in a cell in the “hard site” of the prison. He was a so-called “ghost detainee” who was intentionally hidden from the Red Cross on subsequent inspections and held without appearing on the prisoner lists.
The lawsuit – which alleges multiple violations of U.S. law, including torture, war crimes, and civil conspiracy – notes that CACI provided interrogators used at Abu Ghraib and that L-3 employed all translators used there. Mr. Stefanowicz was linked to Abu Ghraib abuses in military court martial proceedings and was said to have directed low-level U.S. military personnel in detainee interrogations.
Mr. Al-Janabi and other former Abu Ghraib detainees are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William F. Gould, and Katherine R. Hawkins of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael Ratner and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Birmingham, Mich.
Mr. Al-Janabi stated, “We want the complete truth about Abu Ghraib to be told. The world must know what happened.”
The lawsuit also allees that a newly published book, Our Good Name, by CACI Chairman J.P. (Jack) London, reveals that CACI’s internal investigation failed to include any interviews of detainees or of a former employee whistleblower.
According to the lawsuit, “CACI has repeatedly made, and continues to make, knowingly false statements to the effect that none of its employees was involved in torturing prisoners. In fact, co-conspirators have admitted that Big Steve and several other corporate employees were involved in the torture,” and at least one publicly released Abu Ghraib photograph shows a former CACI employee interrogating a prisoner in a dangerous and harmful stress position not authorized by relevant military regulations governing interrogation.
Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “Contrary to the revisionist history some are propagating, the defendants are not victims of anything when it comes to Abu Ghraib. No pseudo-patriotic book campaign will change that fact. The real victims, the people who were senselessly tortured and are now pursuing legal claims – just as Americans rightly would if they or their families suffered these abuses – look forward to having their day in court.”
Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher stated, “Private military contractors can’t act with impunity outside the law. They have to be held accountable for their participation in the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and the other facilities. We believe what they and their employees did clearly violated the Geneva Conventions, the Army Field Manual, and the laws of the United States.”
Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC stated, “This lawsuit represents another voice for the innocent victims of Abu Ghraib but also for decent people throughout the world who decry torture. Mr. Al-Janabi and others like him have suffered enough. They deserve the right to hold the defendants accountable for their conduct.”
The case is Emad Khudhayir Shahuth Al-Janabi v. Steven A. Stefanowicz, et al, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (CV 08-02913).
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.