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Sept. 11 detainees claim guards used dogs to intimidate prisoners

[JURIST] Two men who are part of a class-action lawsuit against the US government have claimed that they were abused by dogs while being held in a New Jersey jail after the Sept. 11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. Ibrahim Turkmen and Akhil Sachdeva were arrested after Sept. 11 under terrorism suspicions and detained at the Passaic County Jail [official website] in New Jersey, but they were eventually cleared and deported from the US for visa violations. Their lawsuit [CCR backgrounder] alleges that they were arbitrarily held in prison because of their religion or national origin and were abused by guards who used aggressive dogs to intimidate them.

The lawsuit was brought in 2002 by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] and has been followed by reports which have criticized the detentions of Sept. 11 detainees, including one broadcast [text] by National Public Radio in 2004 which alleged that dogs were used over a three-year time frame to terrorize, attack, and bite detainees. In 2003, the US Justice Department released a review of the treatment Sept. 11 detainees [text], which includes a chapter on the Passaic County Jail. A supplemental report [text] was also released covering detainees' allegations of abuse at another of the facilities implicated in the lawsuit, the Metropolitan Detention Center. Sachdeva is scheduled to give a deposition related to his case Monday.

Dogs were also used to abuse detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive]. Last month, a military jury convicted [JURIST report] US Army Sgt. Michael J. Smith for using his unmuzzled dogs to intimidate inmates. Smith was sentenced to six months in prison [JURIST report] and a court-martial for Sgt. Santos A. Cardona is scheduled to begin in May on similar charges. Monday's New York Times has more.

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