The federal government’s top law enforcers may be sued by former inmates of Arab or Muslim background, in the case of imprisonment or violation of their rights simply because they were Arab or Muslim, or stereotyped that way following the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a US appeals court decision taken with a 2-1 vote.
"There was no legitimate governmental purpose in holding someone in the most restrictive conditions of confinement available simply because he happened to be-or, worse yet, appeared to be-Arab or Muslim," said two Circuit Judges, Rosemary Pooler and Richard Wesley.
The decision prompted criticism as some believe the ruling could jeopardise the national security of the country against terror.
Claims from Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center by former inmates had resurfaced against officials during the Bush administration, whereby FBI director Robert Mueller is one of the accused officials.
The plaintiffs claimed that they were purposely selected because they were Muslims, Arabs or South Asians and faced a 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, strip search, sleep deprivation and other torture methods.
The officials, including Mueller could be sued over charges that they treated immigrant inmates as suspected terrorists despite the lack of any valid suspicion.
Rachel Meeropol, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights representing the inmates asserted that, "The rule of law and the rights of human beings, whether citizens or not, must not be sacrificed in the face of national security hysteria," right after she welcomed the majority decision.
There was no immediate response from the US Department of Justice, which defended the accused officials.