The 12 Libyan protesters who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in connection with their December takeover of a Libyan student aid center in McLean have filed a $15 million counter-suit against the organization that operates the center.

The protesters allege that the People's Committee for Students of the Libyan Aram Jamahiriya Inc. has made verbal and written threats against them, terrorizing the 12 individuals and their families with "deliberate, malicious and outrageous harassment."

The lawsuit filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court last week came in response to a $12 million suit the center filed against the protesters last month which accuses the men of trespassing and destroying personal property.

"It's all malicious and false," said Richard C. Shadyac, the attorney representing the student aid center.

"They can not prove one single iota of what they have said."

The 12 men allege in the suit that the student aid center "functions as an arm of the [Muammar] Qaddafi regime's international terrorist network" and that the center's principal purpose is to "suppress dissident Libyan students residing in the United States." The 12 have said they seized the building to protest the actions of the center.

The nine-hour takeover of the McLean office building Dec. 22 caused no injuries. Each of the 12 pleaded guilty last month to unlawful assembly, assaulting two office employes and destroying private property. In return for the guilty pleas, county prosecutors dropped felony charges of abduction. The men could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each of the misdemeanor charges.

The 12 allege in the suit that since the incident the center has "repeatedly mailed materials to [them] hinting that their safety, as well as the safety of their friends and family, will be jeopardized unless [they] cease their opposition to the Qaddafi regime."

The suit also alleges that the center has sent messages to the protesters' friends urging them to shun the 12. The suit said the 12 "were mortified, held up to ridicule, ostracized by their peers, humiliated and embarrassed."