An Iranian American who has been held in U.S. custody in Iraq for nearly two months will be released within days, according to his family and his attorney, who said they were informed of the decision yesterday by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
State Department and Pentagon officials reached yesterday evening said they were unable to comment on the case.
Cyrus Kar, 44, of Los Angeles was arrested by Iraqi security forces soon after entering Iraq on May 17. Pentagon officials said last week that they found several washing-machine timers, which are commonly used by insurgents to build bombs, in the trunk of the taxi in which Kar was riding.
Kar's relatives and attorneys have portrayed the arrest as a simple misunderstanding, saying that Kar had just jumped into the taxi outside his hotel and did not know the driver. They said Kar had traveled to Iraq in an effort to tour the ruins of Babylon for a film documentary about Cyrus the Great, the ancient Persian king.
Parvin Modarress, Kar's aunt in Los Angeles, said she is "so happy and joyful that he's coming home that I will forgive anything."
"I'm sad that it took so long even when he was cleared," Modarress said. "It was handled poorly, but I have no hard feelings."
Kar is one of five detainees held in U.S. military centers in Iraq who are believed to be U.S. citizens, the Pentagon said last week. The others include three Iraqi Americans apprehended since April in unrelated arrests and a man with dual U.S.-Jordanian citizenship arrested in October who allegedly was a high-ranking member of Abu Musab Zarqawi's terrorist network.
In Kar's case, his family and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging that Kar was being held without charges despite having been cleared of wrongdoing by the FBI, which searched his home and files in Los Angeles. The FBI also told Kar's family that he had passed a polygraph test, the lawsuit said.
FBI officials have declined to comment and have characterized the bureau's role in the case as minor.
"Once they had cleared him of suspicion, our position is that he should have been released right away," said Ranjana Natarajan, an ACLU staff attorney. "But they've done the right thing, for him and for the U.S. Constitution."
The lawsuit said Kar was arrested along with his Iranian cameraman and the taxi driver and was being held at Camp Cropper, the highest-level U.S. detention facility in Iraq. The lawsuit also said Kar served three years in the U.S. Navy and that he was in favor of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.