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Israelis detained on George Washington Bridge on 9/11 sue Department of Justice

September 14, 2004

Four young Israelis who were arrested by American federal agents on 9/11 have filed a law suit against the Department of Justice in the United States District Court in New York.

The law suit alleges that law enforcement officers and officials of the Bureau of Prisons unlawfully incarcerated them for an extended period of time and violated their civil rights during their more than two month imprisonment in the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in 2001. The four plaintiffs claim that they were held incommunicado without access to attorneys or family, subjected to rough interrogations, physically assaulted, deprived of sleep and subjected to racists taunting by guards.

The law suit seeks millions of dollars in compensation.

The four plaintiffs are represented by Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq. and New York attorney Robert Tolchin, Esq.

The Israelis were working for a New Jersey moving company when their truck was stopped by police near the George Washington Bridge. When it was discovered that they possessed foreign drivers licenses, the nervous officers placed them under arrest as suspects in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They were handed over to federal agents for weeks of interrogations.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, conspiracy theorists in the Arab and Islamic world spread reports that Israel was behind the terrorist atrocities. Islamic and neo-Nazi groups pointed to the arrests of the Israelis as "proof" that the Mossad and Israel had perpetrated the attack on the World Trade Center. Hate groups around the world posted hundreds of stories centering on the arrests of the Israelis and their alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. The fact that the four were eventually cleared of all suspicions and released did not put the libels to rest and stories about the Israelis are still regularly appearing on the internet.

American human rights groups have charged that the Bureau of Prisons violated the civil liberties of those detained by the United States following 9/11. Following an internal investigation the Department of Justice released a report in June 2003 which, in part, found:

"the evidence indicates a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by some correctional officers at the MDC against some September 11 detainees, particularly during the first months after the attack."

According to the plaintiffs' Israeli counsel Nitsana Darshan-Leitner: "The infamous arrest of these young Israelis on 9/11 has been used by anti-Semites worldwide as `proof' of Israel's involvement in the World Trade Center attack. Our clients are seeking compensation for the harm they suffered in the MDC by prison officials. In addition, the law suit will serve as an important public forum to debunk the lie that Israel or the Mossad was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It will show that there was no Jewish conspiracy as the Arab world continues to claim and put an end to this racist blood libel."

For More Information:

info@israellawcenter.org

Source: IMRA Independent Media Review and Analysis

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