U.S. Appellate Court Remands Libyan Torture Case of Two US Citizens

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Sunday, September 1, 2002
Bruce Zagaris
On June 28, 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion in a lawsuit brought by two U.S. citizens against the Socialist People?s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya) for torture and hostage taking, reversing in part and remanding the case for further proceedings to the district court. In March 1980, plaintiffs Price and Frey, U.S. citizens who were living in Libya in the employ of a Libyan company, were arrested after taking photos of various places in and around Tripoli. Libyan Government officials apparently believed these photographs were anti-revolutionary propaganda because they would show unfavorable images of life in Libya. The complaint alleges that Libyan officials denied them bail and detained them for 105 days pending the outcome of their trial. The appellate court rejected Libya?s claims that Libya had put in dispute the factual claims in plaintiff?s complaint by the conclusory allegations in its motion to dismiss. The appellate court observed that in its original motion to dismiss and in its renewal of the same, Libya did not challenge ?the well-leaded facts in the complaint.? The appellate court concluded that the complaint failed to state a cause of action insofar as it complained of torture.