An Iraqi man sued two U.S. military contractors Monday, claiming he was repeatedly tortured while being held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison for more than 10 months.
Emad al-Janabi's federal lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, claims that employees of CACI International Inc. and L-3 Communications punched him, slammed him into walls, hung from a bed frame and kept him naked and handcuffed in his cell beginning in September 2003.
Also named as a defendant is CACI interrogator Steven Stefanowicz, known as "Big Steve." The suit claims he directed some of the torture tactics.
Phone messages left for Arlington, Va.-based CACI and New York City-based L-3 Communications, formerly Titan Corp., were not immediately returned Monday. Stefanowicz could not immediately be reached for comment at a Los Angeles address.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles because Stefanowicz lives there, seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The firms provided interrogators or interpreters to assist U.S. military guards at Abu Ghraib, which became notorious when photos made public in early 2004 showing U.S. soldiers abusing and humiliating detainees. Military investigators later concluded that much of the abuse happened in late 2003 — when CACI and Titan's interrogators were at the prison.
CACI and L-3 were accused of abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners in earlier lawsuits. In November a federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed the suit against L-3 but allowed the one against CACI to proceed.
Iraqi wants case to shed light on events
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday in Istanbul, Turkey, al-Janabi said he hopes the lawsuit sheds light on what happened to him and other detainees.
"God willing, the righteousness will emerge and God willing, the criminal will receive his punishment," al-Janabi said.
Al-Janabi, 43, said he was detained by U.S. troops during a late-night raid in which he and his family were beaten by their captors. He said he was taken to a military base where he was stripped naked, a hood was placed on his head and his hands and legs were chained.
"They (U.S. troops) did not tell me what was the reason behind my arrest ... during the interrogation, the American soldier told me I was a terrorist ... and I was preparing for an attack against the U.S. forces," said al-Janabi, who denied the accusation and claims he was forced to give confessions under "savage" intimidation.
The lawsuit also claims the contractors conspired in a cover-up by destroying documents and other information, hid prisoners during periodic checks by the International Red Cross and misled military and government officials about what was happening at Abu Ghraib.
The Abu Ghraib photos drew international criticism about the way detainees were treated and damaged the U.S. military's image in Arab countries. Eleven U.S. soldiers were convicted of crimes at the prison, which was closed and transferred to Iraqi control.