The FBI this week will ask a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging its agents had Portland resident Yonas Fikre kidnapped and tortured for months in the United Arab Emirates, then refused to let him re-enter the United States.
Fikre is living in Sweden, where he sought asylum after being released from a UAE facility in September 2011, and after being denied an airline ticket for a flight home to Portland.
In a May 2013 lawsuit, filed in U.S District Court in Portland, Fikre alleges he was abducted, tortured and interrogated about activities at a Portland mosque.
In court filings, filed in November, the FBI argues that Fikre, a U.S. citizen, has no proof that he was denied a plane ticket or that he attempted to arrive by some other means than air. “Denial of boarding on an airplane is not a denial of entry into the United States,” the FBI's motion reads.
The FBI argues that Fikre doesn’t provide enough detail to claim it was the FBI that oversaw his torture. The motion to dismiss says that Fikre hasn't explained how the FBI enlisted UAE secret police to kidnap and torture him, nor can Fikre specifically identify those who abused him.
According to Fikre's lawsuit, two FBI agents from the Portland office approached him in
2010 in Sudan, where he was working at the time. They questioned him about the
people and practices at Portland's As-Saber Mosque, where they said they were developing a
The lawsuit says that, after several hours of questioning, Fikre left and refused requests for further interviews. One of the agents, Dave Noordeloos, emailed Fikre. “While we hope to get your side of the issues we keep hearing about, the choice is yours to make,” Noordeloos wrote, according to the lawsuit. “The time to help yourself is now. Be Safe in Sudan.”
Fikre's lawsuit says he soon left Sudan to start a new business in the UAE, where he was abducted by UAE Secret Police, according to his complaint. During his 106 days of detention, he was blindfolded, beaten and threatened with death. The lawsuit says the line of questioning during interrogations was in English and mirrored that of the FBI, while his captors encouraged him to cooperate with the bureau.
Upon release in September 2011, Fikre went to Sweden and told the press what he said had happened in the UAE. Two weeks later he was indicted in the U.S. for allegedly trying to hide money transfers from U.S. Those charges were dismissed last September and an arrest warrant rescinded.