Civil rights activists plan to file a lawsuit today contesting the transfer of a Tunisian American prisoner to a federal prison that some inmates have dubbed “Little Guantanamo,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The suit by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Sabri Benkahla could be the first of many challenging the secretive units, which drastically restrict outside contact.
Benkahla was transferred to the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Ind., in 2007, eight months after his conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in a terrorism case. The Terre Haute unit opened in 2006. Another began operations last year at the federal prison in Marion, Il. The suit charges that the federal Bureau of Prisons violated Benkahla’s right to due process by pulling him out of the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center with no transfer paperwork, no hearing and no opportunity to contest his transfer beforehand. It also questions the legality of the units. Similar suits are being prepared by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and by other inmates, calling the specialized units an unwarranted expansion of the war on terrorism.