At a Glance
In 2022, the parties settled all claims, bringing plaintiffs' 20-year struggle for justice to an end.
Covington & Burling LLP, Michael Winger, Alexander A. Reinert
Turkmen v. Ashcroft (while being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court the case caption briefly changed to Ziglar v. Abbasi) was a civil rights lawsuit filed in 2002 on behalf of a class of Muslim, South Asian, and Arab non-citizens swept up by the INS and FBI in connection with the 9/11 investigation. Based solely on their race, religion, ethnicity, and immigration status, hundreds of men were detained as “terrorism suspects” and held in brutal detention conditions for the many months it took the FBI and CIA to clear them of any connection to terrorism. They were then deported.
The case sought to hold accountable high-level Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, for their role in ordering racial and religious profiling and abuse in detention, in violation of the detainees’ rights under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. Our clients were held in a specially-created Administrative Maximum Special Housing Unit (ADMAX SHU), in solitary confinement. They were purposefully deprived of sleep, denied contact with the outside world, beaten and verbally abused, and denied the ability to practice their religion. The former wardens and other Metropolitan Detention Center officials who oversaw this abuse were also named in the case.
Turkmen sought compensatory and punitive damages for our clients and fit into the Center for Constitutional Rights' larger fight for immigrant rights and government accountability, and against illegal detentions and prisoner abuse.