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US filmmaker sues top military officials over 55-day Iraq detention

[JURIST] Cyrus Kar [BBC backgrounder], the Los Angeles-based filmmaker of Iranian descent and US Navy veteran detained by US forces in Iraq for 55 days, has sued Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] and other top military officials in the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website]. Kar argues that his detention in Iraq, which occurred when US forces stopped a taxi cab with Kar in it and found timing devices in the trunk, violated his civil rights, the law of nations and the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials]. The lawsuit seeks damages for Kar and changes in the government's detention polices, criticizing prolonged detentions without charge, denial of access to counsel, and the inability of detainees to challenge their detention in court.

Kar, who had traveled to Iraq to film a documentary about Cyrus the Great, was detained in May 2005 even though his taxi driver told military authorities that Kar and his cameraman had no knowledge of the devices found in the trunk of the taxi cab. Kar also took a polygraph test and allowed the FBI to search his Los Angeles apartment, but he was not released [JURIST report] until shortly after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] sued for his release last July [JURIST report]. Though Kar said he spent much of his detention in solitary confinement, he said that he had not been maltreated [JURIST report]. Henry Weinstein of the Los Angeles Times has more.

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