An American Muslim man has sued the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the State Department over the claim that he was subjected to torture at their behest while being held abroad.
On Thursday, Yonas Fikre, a Sudanese man of Eritrean descent, filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Oregon seeking USD 30 million in compensation as well as injunctions to prevent the US government from treating anyone else the way he was treated.
The plaintiff says that the FBI took an interest in him in 2009, when he decided to move from Portland, Oregon, to Sudan in order to open an electronics retail business in the North African country.
In April 2010, Fikre was summoned to the US embassy in Khartoum by a man claiming to be an official requiring advice on “how Americans might stay safe during a period of political turmoil in Sudan.”
Upon arrival, he was ushered into a small room and interrogated by FBI agents David Noordeloos and Jason Dundas for information on worshippers at Portland’s largest mosque, Masjid al-Saber.
The agents sought to recruit Fikre as an informant at the mosque, and were angered when he refused.
Fikre left Sudan in June 2010 and arrived in the United Arab Emirates in September 2010, where he obtained a residency permit.
He was apprehended by Emirati police in June 2011, when they “invaded” his house in Abu Dhabi.
Fikre was then incarcerated for 106 days in solitary confinement in a windowless cell, and was beaten repeatedly during the period.
Named in Fikre’s suit are US Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State John Kerry, FBI Director Robert Mueller, FBI Terrorism Screening Center Director Timothy Healy, and FBI agents Noordeloos and Dundas.
Fikre’s story echoes those of Naji Hamdan, Amir Meshal, Sharif Mobley, Gulet Mohamed, as well as Yusuf and Yahya Wehelie.
The six American Muslim men say that, while traveling abroad, they were arrested, questioned, and in some cases abused by local security forces at the behest of the US government.
In doubling the bounty on former Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur’s head, the Obama administration is announcing that Black radicals are candidates for his Kill List. The message is as unmistakable and dramatic as the billboards that have been erected in Newark, New Jersey, and elsewhere screaming for the exiled freedom fighter’s blood.
One does not wind up on the FBI’s Most Wanted list based on the number of murders committed or millions of dollars stolen. The Most Wanted list is among the nation’s most political documents, in which individuals are meant to personify the scope and type of offenses that the U.S. government considers most in need of stamping out. The list is a kind of propaganda, a symbolic display of what the state considers dangerous behavior.
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the two Black men who are most responsible for making Assata Shakur the face of domestic terror in the United States, are fully conversant in the language of symbolism. They are publicly defining the Black liberation movement – or what’s left of it, or those who might attempt to revive it – as a priority domestic target for repression. Shakur, a 65-year old grandmother who has not left Cuba for the past 29 years, poses no physical danger to the American state. She represents a political threat, through her “ideology,” as brazenly stated by the FBI. The Bureau has marked Shakur for priority assassination on the basis of, in the FBI’s words, her “anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message.” “Terrorism” is somehow inherent in the message of Black liberation. Advocacy of Black liberation, is the threat. The reward of $2 million is meant to silence Assata Shakur’s political speech, and remove her as a symbol of resistance to the U.S government.
For the National Security State, “terror” is a powerful word, with vast legal ramifications. The Obama administration is informing Americans and Cubans that Assata is as much fair game for assassination by drone as the late Anwar al-Awlaki. Barack Obama and Eric Holder are serving notice that those who share Assata’s ideology – as understood by the FBI – are subject to eradication as well, because it is an ideology of terror. And they are telling those who give “substantial support” to Assata that they are subject to detention by the U.S. military without trial or charge, for the duration of the war against “terror.”
The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a demonstration on Thursday, May 9, from 5 to 7pm, in front of the Harlem State Office Building in New York City, to give substantial and unwavering support to the safety and freedom of Assata Shakur; Freedom for Sundiata Acoli and Sekou Odinga, Black Liberation Army members held in U.S. prisons; and Freedom for All Political Prisoners.
They tried to kill Assata in 1973, and their still trying. They tried to kill the Black liberation movement, but its not dead yet. Join the Black is Back Coalition and a host of other concerned organizations at the Harlem State Office Building, on 125th Street, at 5pm, on Thursday. Tell the real terrorists what you think about them, their austerity, their mass incarceration, and their wars.
Glen Ford can be contacted at GlenFord@BlackAgendaReport.com.
For more information, go to Black Is Back Coalition event Facebook page:
Twitter has released its second transparency report, which demonstrated a frightening increase in requests for user data by the US government and ignited serious concerns over privacy and free expression.
The list disclosed data requests from over 30 nations, and revealed that the US government was responsible for 815 of the 1,009 information requests in the second half of 2012 – just over 80 percent of all inquiries.
Twenty percent of all US requests were ‘under seal,’ meaning that users were not notified that their information was accessed.
The overall number of requests worldwide also steadily increased last year, rising from 849 in the January to June 2012 period to 1009 in the July to December 2012 period.
Twitter’s legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel blogged that, “it is vital for us (and other Internet services) to be transparent about government requests for user information.”
“These growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression – and real privacy implications,” he wrote.
He went on to express hopes that the publication of the transparency data would be helpful in two ways – “to raise public awareness about these invasive requests,” and “to enable policy makers to make more informed decisions.”
The majority of US requests were subpoenas, which comprised 60 percent of government demands for information. Subpoenas usually seek user information such as email addresses affiliated with accounts and IP logs. A user’s whereabouts can generally be located by the IP address they are using.
Twitter complied with US government requests 69 percent of the time, according to the report.
Twitter released its transparency report on January 28, dubbed ‘Data Privacy Day.’ The US National Cyber Security alliance said it founded the day to “empower people to protect their privacy.”
According to Twitter’s report, several other governments made over 10 requests each for personal information, including Brazil, Canada, France, Japan and the UK. Japan ranked the second-highest on the list after the US; however, the US made 753 more demands for information than Japan.
Google released a statement marking the occasion, saying that the company “[doesn’t] want our services to be used in harmful ways,” and that it is “important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information.”
Earlier this month, France ruled that Twitter must disclose to authorities the identities of people writing anti-Semitic tweets using the hashtags #UnBonJuif [A Good Jew] and #UnJuifMort [A Dead Jew]. The social networking platform will be fined 1,000 euros a day until it complies.
The publication of the survey came shortly after Google published its own transparency report, which showed a similarly disturbing 25 percent rise in data requests from government authorities. The report also revealed that the US had made the most requests for private information to Google of any government: Over 8,438 in the second half of 2012.
UK-based rights group Privacy International later commented that “Google, Facebook and Twitter are highly vulnerable to government intrusion.”
“I am alarmed by the number of government requests and concerned that so many are done with merely a subpoena,” said John Simpson, a consumer advocate with the California-based group Consumer Watchdog. “A warrant should be required.”
- Twitter Transparency Report v2 (twitter.com)
- Twitter: Government user data requests have risen 20 percent (sott.net)
The U.S. is ramping up pressure on the American public to accept an attack on Iran, with not one but two stories in today’s news. It wasn’t enough to accuse Iran of producing nuclear weapons based on no evidence, now we’re throwing into the mix accusations of cyberattacks and hostage taking as well.In perhaps the more serious charge, an AP story accuses Iran of holding retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in 2007 on an Iranian island. Iran has repeatedly denied holding Levinson, which would seem reasonable on two counts — one, they never denied holding the three American hikers, nor journalist Roxanna Saberi; why would they deny holding Levinson? And two, considering they have made no demands for a “spy swap” or anything of the sort, to what end would they be holding him?
Logic, of course, doesn’t deter the U.S. authorities who planted this story. And what exactly is their “evidence”? “The tradecraft used to send those items [videos and pictures of the hostage] was too good, indicating professional spies were behind them.” An example of that “professional tradecraft”? They used a cybercafe to send the video and never used that email address again! Oh, the amazing professionalism! The wondrous “tradecraft” of anyone who could pull off such a daring feat! Yes, you read right, this is the evidence on which “the U.S. government’s best intelligence analysis” says that Iran is holding Levinson.
The second story comes with an equal lack of significant evidence. The U.S. government (through the accommodating auspices of the New York Times) is accusing Iran of being behind recent DDoS attacks on American online banking sites. And here comes the “evidence”:
American officials have not offered any technical evidence to back up their claims, but computer security experts say the recent attacks showed a level of sophistication far beyond that of amateur hackers. Also, the hackers chose to pursue disruption, not money: another earmark of state-sponsored attacks, the experts said.
Again, two things. One, amateur hackers are pretty much capable of doing anything these days. And two, many amateur hacking attacks, probably most of them, are done for the purpose of disruption, not money.The most interesting aspect of this story is actually this admission:
American intelligence officials…claim Iran is waging the attacks in retaliation for Western economic sanctions and for a series of cyberattacks on its own systems.
Needless to say, Iran would be perfectly justified in doing so, given that the U.S. is waging an all-out non-military war against Iran. It’s no accident that sanctions are referred to as “tightening the noose.” U.S. “officials” even admit that the sanctions are “designed to…threaten the country with economic collapse.” This is war, and Iran would be perfectly justified in retaliating by a lot more serious means than these cyberattacks. That said, it must be noted again that the “evidence” that Iran is behind these attacks borders on the laughable.But the U.S. government is not laughing. It is deadly serious in its intent to bring down the Iranian government, and remove from the world one more pole of independence from imperialism.
THE last few days have seen an intensification of statements and false reports from the U.S. government related to the case of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, particularly related to the alleged deterioration of his health.
Once again, the U.S. government is lying to the public, by affirming that Mr. Gross is suffering from cancer and is not receiving adequate medical attention.
These lies have not stopped, not even after his family and U.S. authorities were given the results of the biopsy of a lesion on Mr. Gross’ back, which leave no doubt that he does not have cancer.
From the very first day, a team of Cuban doctors of international repute have systematically attended to Mr. Gross. This team has the results of a biopsy and other examinations which demonstrate that Mr. Gross is not suffering from cancer or any other illness representing a threat to his life. The U.S. has no evidence to demonstrate the contrary. If these distortions persist, we shall be obliged to divulge further evidence.
The U.S. government is also lying about Mr. Gross’ prison conditions, his schedule of telephone calls and visits.
The U.S. government is continuing to lie as to the causes which led to Mr. Gross’ detention, with the sole purpose of evading his direct responsibility for his situation and that of his family.
The U.S. government has never addressed the case of Alan Gross seriously and has only reiterated the unsustainable position that it has nothing to negotiate with Cuba in order to find a solution. At the same time, it insists on demanding from Cuba a unilateral decision which does not consider our humanitarian concerns related to the case of the Five. This is not realistic. I reiterate today Cuba’s disposition to immediately establish a dialogue on the issue of Gross.
On the basis of these fabrications and curiously coinciding with the anniversary of Mr. Gross’ detention, the U.S. government has pressured the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to force a decision declaring Mr. Gross’ detention arbitrary. Today, we denounce these acts of pressure, which led to a violation of the customary procedures and timing of the Group’s work.
Yesterday, December 4, the government of Cuba received the opinion of this group describing Alan Gross’ detention as arbitrary.
Today, we are circulating via the MINREX website Cuba’s response to the United Nations Group, which demonstrates that the detention of Mr. Gross cannot in any way be described as arbitrary.
Alan Gross was detained, tried and sentenced with all guarantees and rights of due legal process and in fulfillment of principles related to judicial independence. Mr. Gross violated Cuban laws by committing acts that constitute serious crimes, acts which are severely punished in most countries, including the U.S.
The United States does not permit any other government to ignore its regulations and clandestinely send individuals to its territory, with government funding from this other government, to establish illegal and covert communications systems, without undertaking any kind of procedure or registration, far less so when the objective is to destabilize the existing order.
Mr. Gross has received decorous and humane treatment since he was arrested.
The United Working Group is the same body which, in May 2005, declared arbitrary the detention of the five Cuban anti-terrorists, taking into consideration that they were held in solitary confinement for 17 months, did not have due access to lawyers and the evidence related to the case, as well as the existing climate of predisposition and prejudice which contributed to the Five being presented as guilty from the outset, given the absence of objectivity and impartiality.
The government of Cuba once again invites the U.S. government to serious talks on these issues in order to achieve a humanitarian solution acceptable to both sides.
International Press Center
Havana, December 5, 2012.
A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday dismissed [opinion, PDF] a lawsuit filed by seven Guatemalans who alleged that they had been the subject of non-consensual human medical experimentation by the US Public Health Service (PHS) [official websites]. In its decision, the court found that under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) [text] the US government is specifically exempt from liability for torts that occur outside of the US. Because the plaintiffs sued government officials who were acting in the capacity of their positions, the claim is automatically converted to a claim against the US government, and the court is bound by the FTCA. In his decision, Judge Reggie Walton acknowledged that “the Guatemala Study is a deeply troubling chapter in our Nation’s history,” but concluded that the court had no authority to provide relief. He suggested that the victims seek a remedy through political means. The Guatemalan government had reportedly requested that the US government provide out-of-court settlements [AP report] before the lawsuit was filed, but the US did not respond.
The victims filed a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] in March 2011. The suit was brought on behalf of all individuals who were subjected to experimentation in Guatemala or were infected to be used as vehicles to infect test subjects for the venereal disease experiments. The complaint alleges that the PHS conducted the human medical experiments in Guatemala to test whether penicillin could also be used as a prophylaxis immediately following exposure to the syphilis bacteria. The plaintiffs sought relief under the Alien Tort Statute [28 USC § 1350], the Fifth Amendment and the Eighth Amendment [materials]. Evidence of the PHS program [report] was discovered by Professor Susan Reverby [academic profile]. US President Barack Obama apologized [BBC report] to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom for the testing. Reverby’s study shows that the PHS infected more than 700 people in Guatemala with syphilis and gonorrhea. The patients were prisoners and people suffering from mental health problems and were unaware they were being tested.