Our complaint in this case alleges that Mr. Meshal, a U.S. citizen, was detained for about four months in 2007 by Kenyan and Ethiopian authorities at the behest of the United States Government. During that time, he was repeatedly interrogated by FBI agents, but was never charged with any crime, never allowed to see a lawyer, and never given access to U.S. consular assistance. We think this treatment violated Mr. Meshal’s rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and the Torture Victim Protection Act; our lawsuit seeks compensatory damages on his behalf.

The defendants moved to dismiss the case. In June 2014, the district court issued an opinion stating, “This Court is outraged by Mr. Meshal’s appalling (and, candidly, embarrassing) allegations of mistreatment by the United States of America…. [But] [o]nly the legislative branch can provide United States citizens with a remedy for mistreatment by the United States government on foreign soil; this Court cannot. Accordingly, defendants’ motion to dismiss must be GRANTED.”

We appealed and were supported by four amicus briefs: one by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and three former Special Rapporteurs; one by a retired high-ranking FBI agent; one by The Constitution Project, and one by a group of law professors.

Nevertheless, the D.C. Circuit court affirmed the district court’s dismissal in October 2015, and our petition for rehearing en banc was denied.

We filed a petition for certiorari in May 2016. After the Supreme Court held it for a year pending the outcome of another case about the power of the federal courts to hear cases seeking damages against federal officials, the Court denied review in June 2017.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Seton Hall Law School; Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School

Date filed

November 10, 2009