Yonas Fikre, an American Muslim, is seeking asylum in Sweden and has claimed that he was detained, torture and kept in solitary confinement in the United Arab Emirates for 106 days at the request of the FBI.
Fikre, 33, said he spent the more than three months in a detention center last year, and was questioned about the activities at a Portland mosque where a man was charged in a plot to detonate a bomb in the city.
Fikre, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Eritrea, said he attended the same mosque as the man. He converted to Islam in 2003, according to the Associated Press, and moved to Sudan in 2009 and later the UAE.
Fikre was visiting the UAE last June, when he was arrested. He told Mother Jones that he was beaten on the soles of his feet, kicked, punched and other gruesome acts in order for him to cooperate. Fikre and his lawyer believe that the FBI was behind it and that his being included on a no-fly list was a way the U.S. government tried to coerce information out of him.
Fikre's lawyer, Thomas Nelson, intends to file lawsuit against the Obama administration for its alleged role in his client's torture.
There was explicit cooperation; we certainly will allege that in the complaint, Nelson told Mother Jones. When Yonas [first] asked whether the FBI was behind his detention, he was beaten for asking the question. Toward the end, the interrogator indicated that indeed the FBI had been involved. Yonas understood this as indicating that the FBI continued to [want] him to work for/with them.
The AP reported that Fikre is the third Muslim from Portland to publicly speak about being detained and questioned while traveling abroad as a result of the Portland's Masjid-as-Sabr mosque.
Somali American Mohamed Osman Mohamud is currently awaiting trial on a charge of plotting to set off a bomb in downtown Portland in November 2010. Fikre told the AP that he met Mohamud a handful of times, but that they weren't friends or acquaintances.
Beth Anne Steele, a spokeswoman for the FBI office in Portland, also told the news organization that while she cannot speak on the specifics of the case she can say that the FBI trains its agents very specifically and very thoroughly about what is acceptable under U.S. law.
To do anything counter to that training is counterproductive -- we risk legal liability and potentially losing a criminal case in court, Steele said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has since urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Fikre was in fact tortured at the request of the FBI.
Watch Fikre talk about the incident in the video below: