NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government will pay $1.26 million to five Muslim men detained for months without charges after the September 11 attacks who sued for unlawful imprisonment and abuse, their lawyers said on Tuesday.
The men claimed they suffered inhumane and degrading treatment in a Brooklyn detention center, including solitary confinement, severe beatings, incessant verbal abuse and a blackout on communications with their families and attorneys.
Rachel Meeropol, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights who brought the case in Brooklyn federal court, said it was the largest settlement so far for claims of abuse in the United States following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Justice Department agreed to settle the suit, which was filed in 2002 after hundreds of immigrants were rounded up and held for months following the attacks, according to the CCR.
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department was not immediately available to comment on the settlement, in which the U.S. government admits no liability or fault. The five men were all eventually released after being cleared of any connection to terrorism but then deported.
It’s a start.
The lawsuit, which sued top Bush administration officials including former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, was one of many that accused the Bush administration of disregarding constitutional rights.
The claims against Ashcroft and others are continuing. The CCR is also seeking to bring claims on behalf of five new plaintiffs.