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American citizen indicted on torture charges from time in Kurdistan

American citizen Ross Roggio, 53, has been indicted on two separate charges of torture for the alleged abuse of an employee in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in 2015. 

Roggio living in Pennsylvania, was previously indicted on 37 charges of illegally exporting weapons to Kurdistan. Roggio allegedly worked with Kurdish officials to construct a weapons factory, which produced weapons for Kurdish soldiers. 

However, the additional charges of torture claim that while Roggio was managing a weapons factory, an employee “raised concerns about the weapons project.” Responding to the concerns, Roggio instructed Kurdish soldiers to detain and torture the employee for 39 days. 

According to the indictment, a bag was placed over the employee’s head while he was abducted from his home in 2015. Afterwards, the victim was taken to a military compound in which Roggio directed soldiers to torture and abuse the employee. 

Roggio led multiple interrogation sessions, where he directed Kurdish soldiers to “suffocate the victim with a bag, taser the victim in the groin and other areas of his body, beat the victim with fists and rubber hoses, jump violently on the victim’s chest while wearing military boots, and threaten to cut off one of the victim’s fingers,” the United States Department of Justice stated.

Each of the two torture charges carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. If Roggio is found guilty of all torture and illegal weapons charges, he will face a maximum of 705 years in prison. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Roggio is “the second U.S citizen - and the fourth overall - to be charged with violating the torture statute,” which was enacted in 1994. 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire stated, “This defendant leveraged his position and used foreign soldiers in order to intimidate and coerce someone who was a threat to the success of his corrupt scheme.”


The U.S. is “committed to bringing human rights violators to justice.”

In a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Special Agent Maguire stated; “The FBI has a global reach and working in concert with our federal and international partners, will pursue justice for any victim – here or abroad – who suffers at the hands of an American citizen.”

“These charges demonstrate that the Department of Justice will hold U.S. citizens who commit horrendous acts of violence accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker of Homeland Security stated, “This case serves as another reminder that [Homeland Security Investigation dept.] works tirelessly to investigate those who seek to escape justice from crimes they commit overseas.”

Last month, the Tamil Friendship Forum held a virtual event discussing lessons Eelam Tamils could learn from the Kurdish experience. The event included discussions on regional autonomy and genocide prevention.


Read more here and here

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