updated 8/9/2005 9:10:59 PM ET 2005-08-10T01:10:59

A man being held as an enemy combatant is suing the federal government, claiming personnel at a military prison in Charleston have mistreated him by withholding medical care, keeping him from practicing Islam and preventing him from seeing almost anyone but his guards and lawyers.

Ali Saleh Kahlab al-Marri, 39, who has lived in Peoria, Ill., but is originally from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, has been in the Charleston Naval Brig since shortly after being declared an enemy combatant in June 2003. No charges have been filed, and al-Marri says he is innocent.

“He is only seeking improved conditions and to be treated humanely,” said one of his attorneys, Jonathan Hafetz.

Claims censorship, threats
In the lawsuit filed Monday against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and brig commander C.T. Hanft, al-Marri claims he has been mistreated in dozens of ways, ranging from being denied toilet paper to having interrogators threaten to send him to Egypt or Saudi Arabia for torture and having his wife raped.

Al-Marri said he has been kept in solitary confinement. He also said the government unfairly censors letters to him, including blacking out almost an entire letter from a nephew in third grade, according to the suit.

In court papers, al-Marri said he has not been able to worship properly because he hasn’t been given a compass to find Mecca, has to use a dirty blanket instead of a prayer mat and his Quran has been mistreated by being placed on the floor underneath other items.

A Defense Department representative didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment, but the military has said similar allegations in the past at other prisons have been proven false.

Charges dropped after combatant declaration
Al-Marri was arrested three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was charged in federal court in Illinois with committing credit card fraud and lying to banks to finance al-Qaida. Those charges were dropped when he was named an enemy combatant and moved out of state. He had returned to the United States the day before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, after living overseas for several years.

Al-Marri was declared an enemy combatant “due to recent credible information provided by other detainees in the war on terrorism,” federal officials said.

Former Chicago gang member Jose Padilla is also being held in the Naval brig as an enemy combatant. Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was accused of plotting to detonate a “dirty bomb” in the United states.

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