Published: Tue, October 24, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Underwear bomber sues, says rights being violated in prison

Underwear bomber sues, says rights being violated in prison

A lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Colorado says Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (OO'-mahr fah-ROOK' ahb-DOOL'-moo-TAH'-lahb) is in indefinite, long-term solitary confinement at the federal Supermax penitentiary in Florence, Colorado.

A Nigerian man - dubbed the "underwear bomber" - who is serving a life sentence for his failed attempt to blow up an global flight near Detroit on behalf of al Qaeda in 2009 is reportedly suing the federal government over the way he has been treated in prison.

"Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the United States Constitution", the suit says.

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

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"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 states.

He tried to detonate a bomb on the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight but the device failed and badly burned him.

On top of that, the complaint continues, "some corrections officers have themselves harassed Mr. Abdulmutallab by displaying to him during prayer times magazines containing photographs of naked women, which is religiously offensive to him".

Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian native, has described himself as a member of al Qaeda and pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, in 2011. He was sentenced in February 2012 and transferred to ADX the next month.

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In a statement, attorney Gail Johnson maintains that "our client went on hunger strikes as a means of passively protesting violations of his First Amendment rights to free speech and his right to practice his religion in peace".

According to the court documents, Abdulmutallab accuses the facility staff of prohibiting him to talk to his nieces and nephews, as well as allowing white supremacist inmates to harass him during prayer times - curse, yell, scream, and verbally insult Muslims. For a four-year period, he was also forbidden to communicate with his sister, though he is now able to do so. The lawsuit states that since Abdulmutallab has been incarcerated he has not been able to participate in group prayer, which is in accordance to his religious beliefs.

Abdulmutallab has gone on a hunger strike to protest his alleged treatment and has been repeatedly force fed, the lawsuit claims.

He wants a court order removing the restrictions, allowing "daily congregational prayers", regular access to an imam and a halal diet.

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