A U.S. citizen once convicted of running a private jail in Afghanistan for terror suspects and torturing them has sued The Associated Press, alleging it engaged in defamation, libel and slander.
Jack Idema, a former Green Beret from Fayetteville, N.C., filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking at least $110,000 and other unspecified damages.
Idema, who listed a current address in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was convicted of charges including torture and operating a private jail and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Afghanistan in September 2004. He was later pardoned by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and left that country in June.
In his lawsuit, Idema accused the AP of ignoring truths about his work in Afghanistan to generate a “hot salient and torrid story of abuse in Afghanistan” to compete with a CBS story about allegations of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
He also accused the AP of reneging on promises not to publish photographs and videotaped images provided by Idema or his lawyers unless it obtained publishing rights from his licensing agent, Polaris Images.
Dave Tomlin, AP associate general counsel, said: “The whole lawsuit is nonsense. The claims that reflect on the integrity and professionalism of AP staff are especially outrageous.”
According to the lawsuit, Idema had fought with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and remained with the forces until June 2002, when he returned to the United States. He was not a member of the U.S. military at that time.
In April 2004, Idema was back in Afghanistan, working closely with U.S. and Afghan military and intelligence activities, the lawsuit said. He was arrested a few months later.
The U.S. military has said it accepted a prisoner from Idema before realizing he was an impostor and releasing the prisoner without charge. NATO peacekeepers have said they were duped into helping Idema on three raids.