Pakistani immigrant sues US over false arrest in war on terrorism

Pakistani immigrant sues US over false arrest in war on terrorism

ORLANDO - A Pakistani immigrant who says he was held for more than 10 months in solitary confinement after being falsely arrested on terrorism charges has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Miami, saying he was a victim of "overzealousness" in the US war on terrorism.

Irfan Khan, a 40-year-old Muslim, emigrated to the United States from Pakistan in 1994 and is a naturalized US citizen.

He is the son of a 78-year-old south Florida imam who was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a judge in August for funneling more than $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban.

Hafiz Kahn was convicted in March on four counts of providing money and support to the group, which the United States considers a terrorist organisation. He had faced a maximum of 60 years in prison, and prosecutors sought a 15-year sentence.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in US District Court, says Irfan Khan was arrested in California in May 2011 on charges that included providing material support for terrorism and the Pakistani Taliban.

Subsequently transferred to a prison in Florida, he was also accused of supporting a conspiracy to maim, kidnap or murder persons overseas, according to the lawsuit.

All charges against Khan were dropped in June 2012, but only after he had been held for 319 days in solitary confinement, according to the lawsuit.

"The conduct the government subjected Irfan to, as a result of his religion, national origin, and its overzealousness in its war on terror was and still is, by all standards, horrendous," the complaint says.

"I couldn't even imagine myself in this situation," Khan told Reuters on Thursday evening. "I was shocked at the time. I'm still shocked. I don't know why it happened, how it happened, and that's why we are doing this. To get some answers."

He did not elaborate, but the lawsuit accuses the government of false arrest, imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

A spokesman for the US Justice Department could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit after Reuters learned of it late on Thursday.

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