The US Supreme Court says FBI Director Robert Mueller and ex-Attorney General John Aschcroft cannot be sued by a former 9/11 detainee for alleged abuse.
The justices on Monday reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed a lawsuit brought by Javaid Iqbal to go forward.
Mr Iqbal, from Pakistan, argued the two officials were responsible for a policy that saw him singled out for abuse on the basis of his religion and race.
The court ruled that his complaint failed to back up this claim.
Mr Iqbal spent some six months in solitary confinement in a federal prison in Brooklyn in 2002.
In his lawsuit, he said he had suffered physical and verbal abuse and had been singled out for mistreatment because of ethnic and religious discrimination.
The government argued that there was nothing to link Mr Mueller and Mr Ashcroft to the alleged abuse of Mr Iqbal.
In a ruling by five votes to four, the Supreme Court justices overturned a ruling by a New York appeals court that had allowed Mr Iqbal's lawsuit to proceed.
Supreme Court to decide 9-11 abuse case
Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:56am EDT
By James Vicini
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide whether a lawsuit can proceed against the former U.S. attorney general and the FBI director in a case brought by a Pakistani man who said he was abused in detention after the September 11 attacks.
The high court agreed to hear an appeal by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller, arguing they cannot be held personally liable in the lawsuit by Javaid Iqbal, who was held more than a year at a Brooklyn detention center after the September 11 attacks.
The decision followed last week's landmark Supreme Court ruling that held the Guantanamo Bay prisoners can go before U.S. federal judges to seek their release, a setback for President George W. Bush.
Iqbal, a Muslim, said in the lawsuit he was subjected to unlawful ethnic and religious discrimination and subjected to verbal and physical abuse, including unnecessary strip searches and brutal beatings by guards on two occasions.