SEATTLE — A Sudanese aid worker freed from Guantanamo Bay in 2007 sued U.S. government officials Wednesday over what he called his forced disappearance and torture.

Lawyers for Adel Hassan Hamad, 52, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking damages for ongoing physical and emotional problems and compensation for lost wages and loss of reputation.

It names as defendants nearly two dozen current and former U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Navy Secretary Gordon England.

Similar cases have been filed — and dismissed — in federal court in Washington, D.C., where judges have ruled that such claims are barred by the Military Commissions Act.

Lawyers for Hamad said his case was the first brought outside of Washington, D.C.

Gwynne Skinner, a member of Hamad’s legal team and a professor in the International Human Rights Clinic at Willamette University College of Law in Oregon, said the case was filed in Seattle because Gates owns property in Washington state.

She also hopes the more liberal-leaning judges in the 9th U.S. Circuit will rule such lawsuits can proceed.

Hamad alleges he was a humanitarian worker based in Pakistan in 2002 when he was seized from his apartment, tortured and eventually shipped to Guantanamo. He was detained for more than five years.

Before he was returned to his native Sudan in 2007, his lawyers learned he had actually been cleared to return home two years earlier, the lawsuit said.

Hamad’s case drew a well-organized campaign for his release — including a YouTube video featuring Martin Sheen.

“He’s struggling,” Skinner said of Hamad. “He’s struggling to find work and support his family.”

Skinner said Hamad’s case was bolstered by a declaration provided last week by retired Army Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Wilkerson testified that certain officials, including Rumsfeld, “knew that they had seized and were holding innocent men at Guantanamo Bay, and that they simply refused to release them out of fear of political repercussions,” Hamad’s complaint states.

The torture he alleges includes exposure to extreme cold, being forced to eat rotten food and drink dirty water, and being forced to stand for three straight days without sleep or food.


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