Cyrus Kar (b. March 18, 1961 in Tehran, Iran) is an Iranian-born American film director, part-time professor at the University of Phoenix, and now-vindicated alleged terrorist who was captured by United States forces in Iraq on May 17, 2005, while filming a documentary on the life of Cyrus The Great. On July 10, 2005, he was released from custody after his family sued, accusing the U.S. government of violating his civil rights and detaining him after his clearance by the FBI. He was accused of smuggling washing machine timers for use in improvised explosive devices in a taxi he was riding into Baghdad.
Although born in Iran, his family moved to Germany when he was two and then to America when he was five where he was brought up in the American culture. He returned to Iran at the age of nine, where, barring one year in Germany, he lived until returning to America at the age of 14. He attended kindergarten and elementary school in Utah, high school in Washington and subsequently entered the Navy, attaining the rank of Third Class Petty Officer.
Kar began working on a documentary film about his namesake Cyrus the Great (Persian King) and visited England, Germany, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan for shooting before obtaining permission from the US government to visit Iraq. He arrived in the country on May 7, 2005 and was arrested after 10 days of filming on May 17 by Iraqi security forces before being handed over to US forces. He was then taken to Abu Ghraib prison before eventually ending up in Camp Cropper, where he spent the remainder of his incarceration in solitary confinement. According to the ACLU, he had been permitted three phone calls and a visit from the ICRC.
On July 7, 2006 Kar sued Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other military officials, calling the government's detention policies unconstitutional. He also claimed that he was hooded, threatened, taunted and insulted by US soldiers. The lawsuit said his detention violated his Civil rights, Geneva conventions as well as International law. "Human rights monitors note that the vast majority of the over 15,000 detainees in U.S. military custody in Iraq have never been charged, tried, provided counsel, or allowed to challenge their detention in court, and over one-fifth of them have been detained for over a year in this manner," the suit states. "Mr. Kar was imprisoned by the United States military in Iraq without the slightest hint of legal authority," said Mark Rosenbaum, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is filing the lawsuit on his behalf. "Saddam Hussein has had more due process than Cyrus Kar; this is a detention policy that was drafted by Kafka." The lawsuit was dropped in July, 2008 after the US Army Field Manual FM 3-24 adopted Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention governing U.S. detention operations.
- From Filmmaker in Los Angeles to Iraq Detainee, New York Times, July 6, 2005
- The strange case of Cyrus Kar, BBC, July 7, 2005
- ACLU Habeas corpus petition
- Filmmaker Cyrus Kar Describes Ordeal of Iraq Detention, Venus Project, August 25, 2005
- Filmmaker Sues Rumsfeld Over Iraq Detention , Los Angeles Times, July 7, 2006
- American filmmaker sues Rumsfeld over detention in Iraq: Cyrus Kar says he was hooded, threatened by U.S. soldiers, CNN, July 8, 2006