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'Underwear Bomber' Says He's Being Mistreated In Colorado Prison

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) - The man known as the "underwear bomber" has filed a lawsuit in Denver federal court against the U.S. Attorney General and Bureau of Prisons over conditions in the prison where he is being held in Colorado.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (credit: CBS)

It was Christmas Day 2009 when a small explosion occurred on a flight landing in Detroit. Dispatched by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallah, a Nigerian man, was arrested for attempting to set off a plastic explosive hidden in his underwear.

He has been serving his time at what's known as the Supermax prison facility in Florence.

Now, in a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Bureau of Prisons, he claims he has been subjected to solitary confinement, unable to communicate with family and subjected to persecution due to his Islamic religion.

His attorney Gail Johnson was asked by CBS4 reporter Rick Sallinger, "What kind of people are causing the harrassment?"

She replied, "It's our understanding there are white supremacists who also in same unit causing harassment and some from officers."

She says guards have been exposing him to pornographic pictures while attempting to pray, other inmates make insulting remarks about the prophet Mohamed and there has been damage to his Koran and prayer rug.

The lawsuit says he has undergone hunger strikes that has led to him being fed against his will.

"Most people in the U.S. don't understand that that kind of brutal kind of force feeding practice is going on not just at Guantanamo but in the middle of Colorado," Johnson said.

Johnson added her client is alone in a cell 22 to 23 hours a day and deprived of contact with much of his family, adding that if he doesn't get relief he will likely go on a hunger strike again.

The suit asks for him to be removed from solitary confinement and be given other relief.

The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment because it is pending litigation.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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