A federal grand jury has indicted three military contractors on charges they kidnapped a foreign national at gunpoint while working at an air base in Iraq, prosecutors announced Monday.
The three employees of two Department of Defense contractors were freed on $100,000 bond last week after pleading not guilty to charges that include conspiracy, kidnapping, assault and witness tampering.
Three federal marshals had traveled to Kuwait to bring the contractors back to the U.S., according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Donald Washington's office.
The indicted men were identified as Ronald Broussard, Jr., 42, of Lafayette, La.; Alan Beaty, 35, of Oneida, Tenn.; and Robert Bowlin, Sr., 40, of Brandon, Miss.
Alleged threats of harm
The indictment accuses the men of conspiring to kidnap a man who worked at Camp Al-Asad Air Base to question him about the sale of liquor in September. The contractors allegedly threatened to harm the man if he reported the incident.
Broussard and Beaty were employed by Special Operations Consulting Security Management Group of Minden, Nev. Bowlin worked for TAOS Industries of Huntsville, Ala.
Washington said the three contractors are being prosecuted under the same federal statute as five Blackwater security guards charged in the September 2007 deaths of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad's Nisoor Square.
Kevin McDermott, a lawyer for Broussard, said he believes his client's purported victim also is a contractor who isn't a native of Iraq.
"We're not talking about shooting up a village," McDermott said. "We're talking about a bunch of contractors (angry) with each other, apparently in a dispute over alcohol."
Washington, who wouldn't elaborate of the identity of the alleged victim, said the attack left the man with cuts on his forehead. Washington also would not elaborate on how the alleged alcohol sale factored into the incident. Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury in Lafayette because Broussard lived there before he went to Iraq, Washington said.
Attorney: 'Pretty minor incident'
McDermott said he expects to test the constitutionality of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, a 2000 law that allows for civilian contractors to be prosecuted for crimes while working overseas.
"This is the farthest reach that Congress has ever used to try to reach into foreign countries to impose American laws," he said.
Washington said this is the first time his office has prosecuted a MEJA case.
"It's the express will of Congress," he said of the act, "and it's given to us to enforce it. That's what we're doing."
Colby Vokey, a lawyer for Beaty, described the alleged kidnapping as a "pretty minor incident."
"He's innocent," Vokey said. "We're looking forward to clearing his name."