Federal government asks judge to throw out American Muslim’s false imprisonment lawsuit

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Boise, Idaho is questioning the urgency that FBI agents felt when they arrested and detained an American Muslim under a law designed to ensure that witnesses show up to testify in court.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams questioned Department of Justice attorney Marcus Meeks during a hearing Thursday in a lawsuit brought by Abdullah al-Kidd against the federal government.

Al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen, sued former Attorney General John Ashcroft and other federal officials in 2005, after he was arrested and jailed as a material witness in a terrorism-related criminal case against another man. He contends his arrest was just a ruse to give the government time to investigate him for any potential wrongdoing. The federal government maintains its actions were constitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already thrown out al-Kidd’s claims against Ashcroft and a few other defendants, and al-Kidd has prevailed in a claim against one prison and settled his claims against two other lockups. Now FBI agents Michael Gneckow and Scott Mace and the Department of Justice are asking the judge to throw out al-Kidd’s claims against them.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Ashcroft Can be Sued by Detained Citizen

The Supreme Court will again examine the government’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, agreeing Monday to consider whether former attorney general John D. Ashcroft can be sued by a U.S. citizen who claims he was detained and treated as a terrorist.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that Ashcroft did not have immunity for the actions al-Kidd challenges and that the case should go forward to see whether al-Kidd can prove his case.

The court will review a ruling that said that Abdullah al-Kidd can press forward with his suit against Ashcroft. Al-Kidd, a one-time University of Idaho football star who converted to Islam, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003 as he was boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia, where he planned to study.

In 2009, the justices narrowly ruled for the former attorney general in a similar case. They dismissed allegations from a Pakistani man legally living in the United States that Ashcroft should be held responsible for his detainment after the terrorism attacks, when he says he was beaten and held in solitary confinement for five months without being charged.