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US Muslim claims detention and torture by FBI

Published time: April 18, 2012 20:37
Edited time: April 19, 2012 00:37
Yonas Fikre, center, a Portland, Oregon Muslim American talks to media with his U.S. attorney Thomas Nelson, left, and Swedish lawyer Hans Bredberg, right, in Stockholm, Sweden, April 18, 2012 (Photo from www.seattlepi.com)

Yonas Fikre, center, a Portland, Oregon Muslim American talks to media with his U.S. attorney Thomas Nelson, left, and Swedish lawyer Hans Bredberg, right, in Stockholm, Sweden, April 18, 2012 (Photo from www.seattlepi.com)

A Muslim American claims he was detained in the UAE last year and tortured by FBI agents. He says he was beaten, threatened with death and kept in solitary confinement for over three months before they let him go.

Naturalized US citizen Yonas Fikre, who is currently seeking asylum in Sweden, says he was interrogated in connection with a terror plot in Portland, Oregon

Fikre says he had attended the same mosque in Portland as a man who has been charged in connection with a plot to detonate a bomb in the city in 2010.

The man claims he was arrested last June while in the United Arab Emirates and taken to a prison in Abu Dhabi to be questioned about the activities of the Portland mosque.

According to Fikre, his interrogators became very upset when he presumed they were working for the FBI.

"They got very angry and they said ‘We don't work with the Americans, we are an independent country," he told a news conference on Wednesday. But later one of them acknowledged FBI involvement in the operation, Fikre says.

"He confirmed to me that the FBI were there. Also, when I was getting beaten, they did admit that the FBI knew exactly what was happening and they were working with the FBI," he said.

He also told journalists he was warned to say he was being treated well in custody or "more torture would take place."

The FBI has refused to comment so far. Beth Anne Steele, a spokeswoman for the FBI office in Portland, said she could not talk about the specifics of the case.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called upon the US Department of Justice to investigate whether Fikre was tortured at the behest of the FBI, AP reports.

Fikre is the third Muslim man from Portland to publicly say he was detained while traveling abroad and questioned about Portland's Masjid-as-Sabr mosque.

The mosque has a notorious reputation within US secret services. Ten years ago seven Muslims with ties to the mosque were arrested after they tried to enter Afghanistan to fight US forces.

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