Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The cost of ignoring civil liberties

The United States has agreed to pay $300,000 to an Egyptian man detained after 9/11.

NEW YORK -- The U.S. government has agreed to pay $300,000 to an Egyptian man who was detained for nearly a year following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but was never linked to terrorism, his lawyer said.

The settlement was filed in Brooklyn federal court on Monday, said attorney Haeyoung Yoon, who represents Ehab Elmaghraby. She said she believed it was the first settlement involving the claims of people detained after Sept. 11.

Elmaghraby, a former restaurant worker, was held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn from Oct. 1, 2001, until August 2002, Yoon said.


Elmaghraby said he was shackled, shoved into walls, punched and called a terrorist and epithets at the facility. Yoon said he was subjected to repetitive strip searches and a correction officer penetrated his anal cavity with a flashlight.

While in custody, Elmaghraby's thyroid condition was misdiagnosed as asthma, worsening it, Yoon said. He wanted to continue with the lawsuit but settled because of his mounting medical costs, she said.

This may well be just the first of many lawsuits, not counting a class-action suit that has been filed on behalf of all such detainees. It demonstrates once again the high cost of arbitrary detention and abuse of prisoners.

Ignoring civil liberties is a bad idea to begin with. And now it's going to become an expensive one.

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