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Of all the stories of abuse and detention resulting from U.S. military action in Iraq, few have been more puzzling than that of Cyrus Kar. The former Navy official turned filmmaker was picked up by U.S. forces in May 2005 near a checkpoint in Baghdad, where he was working on a documentary about the ancient Persian emperor Cyrus the Great. He was then held for more than two months in military prisons before being absolved of all wrongdoing. During his detention, Kar alleges that he was subjected to physical abuse (he says a soldier slammed his head against a wall) and emotional abuse (he says soldiers threatened him and called him the next John Walker Lindh, who was an American convicted for supporting the Taliban) and held in solitary confinement without charges and without access to a lawyer. It all happened, he claims, because soldiers were suspicious of one item found in the trunk of his vehicle: washing machine timers, which can be used to make bombs. Now Kar is suing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Gen. George Casey Jr., and Maj. Gen. William Brandenburg in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for violating due process and unlawfully searching Kar’s California home. Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union are handling his case. Although the organization’s most recent suit against the military over allegations of unlawful confinement lost before Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, this suit is different in one key respect: Kar is a U.S. citizen.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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