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Lawsuit says Chesapeake man was killed by rebels in Yemen

Posted at 9:57 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 23:30:34-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A federal lawsuit says a man was tortured and killed by Houthi Rebels in Yemen last fall.

John Hamen was working there as a contractor last October when he and another man, named Mark McAlister, were detained at an airport. They were accused of being spies, the lawsuit says.

The two were held separately and Hamen was killed and tortured by the rebels, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in Washington D.C., and names Iran and Syria as defendants, accusing them of supporting the rebel group. Hamen and McAlister families are each seeking more than $300 million.

McAlister was held for more than six months, but eventually released. Conditions were very unpleasant, the lawsuit says. McAlister lost so much weight that "his ribs and backbone were clearly visible and he was emaciated."

After his release, McAlister attended his son's college graduation in Tennessee. "Because of the circumstances, I was in I really didn't think I was going to make it," he told WBBJ-TV. "In fact, I kind of decided not to even hope for it. I tried to take my mind off of it, but again God made two miracles appear and I'm here today."

An attorney for the families says if the ruling is in their favor, there are several ways to collect, including through money obtained in US government sanctions. The next step is to translate the lawsuit into the countries' official languages.