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Pilot Cleared of 9/11 Ties Files Claims Against U.S.

September 17, 2003|From Reuters

LONDON — A pilot who spent five months in a British jail after being accused of training Sept. 11 hijackers has filed claims against the FBI and U.S. Justice Department, seeking $10 million because he says the agencies ruined his life, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Lotfi Raissi, 29, was cleared of wrongdoing in April 2002 by a British judge, who said U.S. officials had failed to present any evidence to back up their accusations that he had links to terrorism.

Raissi, a British-based Algerian who studied at a flight school in Arizona, was arrested in London 10 days after the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. and held at the high-security Belmarsh Prison.

Lawyer Jules Carey in London said Raissi's legal team had filed claims with the Justice Department and the FBI, seeking damages for wrongful prosecution and imprisonment.

Although the allegations against him were discredited, no airline will now employ Raissi as a pilot, Carey said.

"The consequences for Mr. Raissi have been utterly ruinous," he said. "His entire life, both personal and professional, has been blighted by the allegations, and it is time for the U.S. and U.K. authorities to acknowledge their part in his undoing."

A spokesman for the FBI said he was aware that the claims had been filed but could not comment on pending litigation.

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