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ACLU sues for government surveillance records of former Hawthorne man

August 18, 2010 |  1:09 pm

Maintaining that the U.S. government was behind a U.S. citizen’s imprisonment for more than a year in the United Arab Emirates, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking federal surveillance records.

The suit, filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, asks the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies for records of their surveillance of Naji Hamdan, a former Hawthorne resident.

The ACLU says the intelligence agencies have not released any information in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed in January.

Hamdan and the ACLU said he was the focus of FBI questioning for years while living in the U.S. Three weeks before he was arrested, Hamdan says he was questioned by two FBI agents who flew from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi.

Hamdan, who lived in Hawthorne for 20 years and ran an auto parts shop, was arrested in late August 2008 and released and deported to Lebanon in October 2009 after he was convicted of terrorism-related charges.

The ACLU had previously filed a habeas corpus suit against the government, alleging that Hamdan’s imprisonment was a “proxy detention” on the part of the U.S. Hamdan alleged he was tortured during his imprisonment.

The lawsuit was dismissed last year by U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who said he didn't have the authority to interfere in a foreign criminal prosecution.

-- Raja Abdulrahim