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Waging war on journalists who lie. Exposing the truth about Jack Idema, whose story must be told.

Friday, May 05, 2006

American sues U.S. over Afghanistan arrest

Idema's lawyer John Tiffany later said to the AP reporter...none of which was quoted in the AP story below: a multitude of American lawyers rushed to do pro bono defense for the Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners captured and incarcerated in Guantanamo, but no one when asked by the Judge, would volunteer to defend an American(s) and an Afghani working with Idema, who had proof of innocence, and were incarcerated in Afghanistan..

Thursday, May 4, 2006 ยท Last updated 10:36 a.m. PT
American sues U.S. over Afghanistan arrest

WASHINGTON -- An American released Sunday after serving time in Afghanistan on charges of torturing people in an illegal jail appeared in federal court Thursday to press a lawsuit that accuses the State Department and FBI of instigating his arrest and conviction.

Edward Caraballo, a freelance cameraman, told U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that he wants to act as his own lawyer in a lawsuit that challenges the U.S. government's role in the criminal case brought in Afghanistan against him and two other Americans.

Caraballo, who claims he was making a movie about the war on terrorism, served nearly two years in prison in Afghanistan after being convicted in 2004 by an Afghan court.

Jonathan "Jack" Idema, a former Green Beret who served prison time in the United States for fraud, and Brent Bennett, another former U.S. military member, also were convicted and remain incarcerated in Afghanistan.

During their trial in Afghanistan, the Americans maintained the U.S. government knew about their efforts to round up terrorists and authorized the jail run by Idema and Bennett. But U.S. officials denied those claims and said the jail was not part of the U.S. hunt for terrorists.

The three Americans and an Afghan who worked with them filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court here that also challenges the conditions of their confinement in an Afghan prison. Idema is serving a five-year sentence and Bennett is serving a three-year sentence.

Sullivan said Thursday that he tried but failed to find lawyers willing to represent Bennett and Zorro Rasuli Banderas, an Afghan who worked with the Americans, for free in their civil lawsuit here. Last year, an Afghan appeals court ordered Banderas' release. But he chose to remain in prison with Idema.

Sullivan said it is "a sad commentary on this country" that he could find no lawyers willing to take the case at the universities and legal clinics he contacted for help. The judge did not identify the schools or clinics he contacted.

During the brief hearing, Sullivan suggested that Caraballo's claims might now be moot since he has been released. But the judge said he won't decide until a U.S. government attorney and Caraballo have a chance to make their arguments on the issue.

Ori Lev, a Justice Department lawyer, said the government believes the judge has no jurisdiction to hear the case because the Americans were convicted and incarcerated by a foreign country.
Sullivan assured Caraballo he will be treated fairly. "You are in America now. You have rights," the judge said.

As Caraballo left the courtroom, Sullivan asked how long he had been away from the United States.

"Two years," Caraballo answered.

"Welcome back," Sullivan said.


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