A Pennsylvania man was arrested Thursday on charges alleging that he tortured a victim in the Kurdistan region of Iraq in 2015, after a superseding indictment was returned on Tuesday in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
The grand jury charged Ross Roggio, 53, of Stroudsburg with directing and participating in the systematic torture of an employee over the course of 39 days with Kurdish soldiers in Iraq. He was charged with suffocating the victim with a belt, threatening to cut off one of the victim’s fingers and directing Kurdish soldiers to inflict severe physical and mental pain and suffering.
According to the superseding indictment, Roggio was managing a project in 2015 to construct a factory to produce weapons in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. When an employee of Roggio raised concerns about the weapons project, Roggio arranged for Kurdish soldiers to abduct the employee to prevent any interference with the project. The employee was then detained at a Kurdish military compound for 39 days, where he was interrogated and tortured by Roggio and Kurdish soldiers.
Roggio and the Roggio Consulting Company LLC were also charged in a 37 count-indictment in 2018 for illegally exporting firearms parts and tools from the US to Iraq as a part of Roggio’s weapons project. The superseding indictment adds torture charges and conspiracy to commit torture to these previous charges.
In response to the indictment and arrest, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division said, “The heinous acts of violence that Ross Roggio directed and inflicted upon the victim were blatant human rights violations that will not be tolerated.” Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office added, “Whether in the United States or on foreign soil, heinous acts like torture violate our laws.”
If convicted, Roggio faces a maximum 20-year sentence for each torture charge and a maximum total statutory penalty of 705 years in prison for the additional 37 counts. A federal district court judge will determine his sentence.