Abu Ghraib inmates sue defense contractors

Former detainees seek compensation for alleged abuse at Iraqi prison


HAGERSTOWN, Md. --

Three Iraqis and a Jordanian filed federal lawsuits Monday alleging they were tortured by U.S. defense contractors while detained at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

The lawsuits allege that those arrested and taken to the prison were subjected to forced nudity, electrical shocks, mock executions and other inhumane treatment. They seek unspecified payments high enough to compensate the detainees for their injuries, and to deter contractors from such conduct in the future.

"These innocent men were senselessly tortured by U.S. companies that profited from their misery," said lead attorney Susan L. Burke, of the Philadelphia law firm Burke O'Neil. "These men came to U.S. courts because our laws, as they have for generations, allow their claims to be heard here."

Allegations of abuse at the Baghdad prison first erupted in 2004 with the release of pictures of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, being held on leashes or in painful and sexually humiliating positions. Eleven U.S. soldiers were convicted of breaking military laws, and five others were disciplined in the scandal.

Neither U.S. civilian nor military authorities have charged private contractors with crimes at Abu Ghraib.

The contractors named as defendants in the lawsuit are CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., and New York-based L-3 Communications Corp., formerly Titan Corp.

Three of the complaints were filed in U.S. district courts in Seattle, Greenbelt, Md., and Columbus, Ohio, jurisdictions where three former workers reside. The fourth was filed in Detroit, where L-3 recruited heavily for translators, according to that complaint.

The lawsuits repeat "baseless allegations" made more than four years ago in another case brought by the same lawyers, CACI spokeswoman Jody Brown said in a statement.

"In the years that have passed since these claims first surfaced, nothing has changed to give any merit to unfounded and unsubstantiated claims," the statement read. "These generic allegations of abuse, coupled with imaginary claims of conspiracy, remain unconnected to any CACI personnel."

L-3 didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Three of the lawsuits name individual employees of those companies as defendants. They are Adel L. Nakhla, a former L-3 translator, of Montgomery Village; Daniel "DJ" Johnson of Renton, Wash., who worked as a CACI interrogator, and Timothy L. Dugan of Pataskala, Ohio, who also worked as a CACI interrogator, according to the complaints.

Nakhla's wife, Nadine, told an Associated Press reporter on her doorstep that her husband wasn't home. She declined to say how he could be reached.

Johnson's lawyer, Patrick O'Donnell, said in an e-mail the allegations against his client are false. "Daniel Johnson went to Iraq as a 21-year-old, fresh out of the Army, in order to serve his country, which he did honorably," O'Donnell wrote.

Johnson didn't leave a forwarding address after he moved about 10 days ago, his landlord in Renton said.

A phone listing for Dugan went unanswered Monday.

Burke said all four plaintiffs were released from Abu Ghraib without charges after they were held for as long as four years and four months in the case of Dugan's accuser, Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, an Iraqi farmer.

Al Shimari claims he was subjected to electric shock, beaten, deprived of food and sleep, threatened with dogs, stripped naked, forcibly shaved and forced to watch Dugan and others choke another prisoner.

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