Nigeria 'underwear bomber' sues U.S. authority over rights abuses

Associated Press

Associated Press

Documents obtained by Reuters show that in a lawsuit filed in a Colorado federal court, the Nigerian claimed authorities in the federal maximum security prison - where he is being held in long-term solitary confinement - were violating his rights to free speech and religion by not allowing him to communicate with the outside world or practice his faith.

"Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmate from the protections of the United States Constitution", according to the 73-page lawsuit filed by Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian native who was sentenced to four life terms in prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to trying detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit with almost 300 people on board. "Corrections officers have also defiled religious items in Mr. Abdulmutallab's cell, such as his Muslim prayer rug and Qu'ran".

It alleges that during prayers guards allow white supremacist into his area to "curse, yell, scream, and say things that are religiously insulting and offensive to Muslims".

Abdulmutallab isn't seeking any changes related to the length of his sentence; he's now serving four terms of life imprisonment plus fifty years for his attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and John Does 1-20.

"This harassment has rendered it extremely hard for Mr. Abdulmutallab to manage the difficulties of the harsh conditions of solitary confinement by taking solace in his religion and religious practices", the lawsuit alleges. He was sentenced at age 23 on February 16, 2012.

It was learn that he was trained at an al-Qaida camp in Yemen by the USA -born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

According to the complaint, "The SAMs imposed on Mr. Abdulmutallab prohibit him from having any communication whatsoever with more than 7.5 billion people, the vast majority of people on the planet".

It complains constitutional rights protected under the First, Fifth and Eight Amendments for Abdulmutallab, a citizen of Nigeria, are being violated.

He also claims the restrictions keep him from praying with fellow Muslims, thus inhibiting his freedom to practice his religion.

Supermax does not have an imam on staff or under contract, according to the filing.

As a result, the suit says, Abdulmutallab has repeatedly undertaken hunger strikes to protest his alleged mistreatment.

In an interview with the New York Times, Abdulmutallab's lawyer Gail Johnson said: Prisoners retain fundamental constitution right to communicate with others and have families relationship free from under interference by the government.

The lawsuit alleges that during one of the forced feedings, officers put the feeding tube down Abdulmutallab's windpipe rather than his esophagus.

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