In 2005 we filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Cyrus Kar, an Iranian-American filmmaker who was arrested in Iraq and held in solitary confinement by the U.S. Army for weeks without charges or access to a lawyer, even after the government concluded that he had done nothing wrong. He was released soon after we filed the petition.
In May 2007 we filed a civil suit for damages on Mr. Kar’s behalf against the United States and several military officials, asserting claims under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, the Geneva Conventions, and the Law of Nations. The defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over some of them, that they were entitled to qualified immunity, that Mr. Kar lacked standing to seek certain relief, that there was no legal basis to seek damages against the defendants, and that the Geneva Conventions cannot be enforced by private lawsuits. The court heard argument in July 2008 and in September granted the motions to dismiss. It also rejected the government’s argument that because Mr. Kar was seized and detained in a foreign war zone, he was not entitled to the protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. But the court also found that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because any of Mr. Kar’s rights that may have been violated were not “clearly established” in the law. We did not appeal.