(Washington) An American citizen, who also has Syrian nationality and claims to have been tortured in Syria, is suing the government of Bashar al-Assad in a US court, as Damascus begins to emerge from its diplomatic isolation in the region .
Obada Mzaik, born in Ohio to Syrian parents, was returning from a trip to the United States to join his family in Syria when he was arrested at Damascus airport in January 2012, nearly a year after the start of the Civil War, details his complaint filed in January 2023 in federal court in Washington, but made public this week.
Mr. Mzaik, who was a student in Syria when the protests against Bashar al-Assad broke out, said he was held in an underground prison with 10 other people, including a 13-year-old boy.
The young man claims to have been “brutally and systematically beaten, whipped and threatened with electrocution”, according to the court document.
“He was imprisoned in inhumane conditions and forced to witness the torture of other detainees, including one of his relatives,” it also wrote.
His torturers sought to extract information about his friends, his contacts, his interactions with the American government and to “punish him for his activities perceived as going against the regime”, denounces Obada Mzaik.
Released after a month thanks to bribes paid by his family through an intermediary, Mr. Mzaik had to receive medical treatment for more than a month before leaving Syria for Jordan and then the United States. United, according to the complaint.
He is seeking damages, the amount of which has not been specified, for the harm suffered from the Syrian government, under a US law which stipulates that foreign governments supporting terrorism do not benefit from any immunity.
While Bashar al-Assad is highly unlikely to pay a sum determined by a US court, the US has already seized and awarded Iranian funds as damages, a decision Tehran is contesting.
This complaint comes as several Arab countries meet Friday in Saudi Arabia to discuss relations with Syria, after more than a decade of diplomatic isolation from the regime of Bashar al-Assad and in full détente between Riyadh and Tehran.
The Americans have indicated that they will not normalize their relations with the Syrian regime until it is held accountable for the war crimes committed during this conflict which has killed half a million people and displaced half of the world. population of the country.