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World Briefing / United Arab Emirates

U.S. citizen freed after year in jail

November 01, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

A U.S. citizen and former Hawthorne resident was released from a United Arab Emirates jail after being held for more than a year.

Naji Hamdan was convicted of terrorism-related charges on Oct. 12, and sentenced to 18 months in jail. His family and the American Civil Liberties Union alleged that his purported confession was gained by torture. Hamdan's sentence was commuted to time served, said Ahilan Arulanantham, director of immigrants rights and national security at the ACLU of Southern California.

Hamdan, who lived in Hawthorne for two decades, was sent back to his native Lebanon, Arulanantham said.

Last fall, the ACLU sued the U.S. government, accusing it of being involved in Hamdan's detention. In August, a U.S. District judge dismissed the case, saying he didn't have the authority to interfere in a foreign criminal prosecution.

The ACLU appealed, but withdrew its case once it became clear Hamdan would be released.

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