Former Detainee's Lawsuit To Proceed

Associated Press
Friday, June 15, 2007

NEW YORK, June 14 -- A former detainee is allowed to keep former attorney general John D. Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and others in a lawsuit that alleges prisoners were mistreated and subject to ethnic and religious discrimination after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan said it recognized the gravity of the situation confronting government investigators after the attacks and agreed that some government actions that otherwise would not be proper are allowed in emergencies.

But it said most of the rights cited in the lawsuit "do not vary with surrounding circumstances, such as the right not to be subjected to needlessly harsh conditions of confinement."

"The strength of our system of constitutional rights derives from the steadfast protection of those rights in both normal and unusual times," it added.

The ruling came in a case originally brought by Javaid Iqbal and Ehab Elmaghraby. The former detainees said Ashcroft, Mueller and others implemented a policy of confining detainees in highly restrictive conditions because of their religious beliefs and race.

Elmaghraby and Iqbal were among 184 of 762 people arrested after attacks who were held in maximum-security conditions after they were said to be of high interest to the investigation.

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