April 12, 2016, New York – Today, civil rights, human rights, and community groups held a rally and vigil at One Police Plaza, demanding an end to the pervasive abuse of Ahmed Ferhani and other incarcerated people by the Department of Corrections (DOC). Ferhani, whose lawyers say he was entrapped and prosecuted in a terrorism case by the NYPD, is in a coma in intensive care after attempting suicide while incarcerated at the notorious Attica Prison.
“Ahmed complained for months of abuse at the hands of corrections officers, to both the Department of Corrections and the U.S. Attorney General, threatening to take his own life if it did not end,” said Lamis Deek, Ferhani’s attorney. “Inaction led to his tragic suicide attempt and his current critical condition. The DOC failed to protect him or even acknowledge his pleas to end the abuse, leading to his tragic suicide attempt and his current critical condition.”
In his letters reporting the abuse, Ferhani complained that he had been denied food and water, had personal and religious property destroyed, suffered sexual harassment, and was subjected to a brutal assault by corrections officers. Though Ferhani had made prior attempts to harm himself while in custody, he was not placed on suicide watch. His attorneys maintain that he was targeted for abuse by officers because he has struggled with mental health issues since he was a child.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney Rachel Meeropol, “Today we stand together, sending our love and support to Ahmed Ferhani and his loved ones. The Muslim community has been under attack in the U.S. since 9/11, from unconstitutional immigration sweeps and suspicionless surveillance to entrapment to abuse by corrections officials. It must stop. No one should be targeted or profiled based solely on their religion—it goes against our founding principles and it’s against the law.”
Ferhani’s supporters say that he was entrapped by the NYPD in a terrorism case after an investigation failed to turn up any illegal activity despite extensive surveillance, leading to his current incarceration. The FBI reportedly removed itself from the investigation because of the weakness of the case against Ferhani. The NYPD has come under heavy attack since the Associated Press published details of its extensive surveillance of Muslim communities, including lawsuits filed in New York and New Jersey. The Center for Constitutional Rights is counsel in the New Jersey case, Hassan v. City of New York.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.