Rights groups sue US officials over Yemen killings

July 18, 2012 - 11:35 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the drone strike killings of three U.S. citizens in Yemen.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in federal court in Washington on Wednesday on behalf of relatives of the victims. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus and other high officials are named as defendants.

The U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader, and Samir Khan, an al-Qaida propagandist, were killed in a drone strike in September. Al-Awlaki's son, Abdulrahman, was killed in October.

The lawsuit charges that senior CIA and military officials violated the Constitution and international law when they authorized strikes by the unmanned drones. The complaint also accuses the U.S. government failing to take legally required measures to protect civilian bystanders.