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Edmonds v. United States

June 27, 2006

SIBEL EDMONDS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Sibel Edmonds brought this suit against her former employer, the United States (the "Government"), under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671-2680 (the "FTCA"). The Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") employed Ms. Edmonds as a civilian linguist. She accused another employee of misconduct, and she complained of alleged security breaches. Subsequently, the FBI terminated Ms. Edmonds's employment. In this suit, she contends that the Government committed various torts when it investigated her complaints and fired her. The Government has moved to dismiss Ms. Edmonds's "negligent investigation" claim due to failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The Government also has moved to dismiss the remainder of Ms. Edmonds's tort claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim under the FTCA. Because the Government's motion to dismiss is well-founded, it will be granted. However, the Court will provide Ms. Edmonds an opportunity to file an Amended Complaint no later than July 27, 2006, to state a claim for intentional conversion should she choose to do so.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS*fn1

Ms. Edmonds is a U.S. citizen of Turkish descent, and she is fluent in Turkish and Farsi. Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 8. Much of her family still resides in Turkey, and prior to 2000, she visited that country for two to three months every year. Id. ¶ 9. In September 2001, the FBI offered a job to Ms. Edmonds to work as a translator on its counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence investigations. Id. ¶ 10. The FBI requires applicants for linguist and monitor positions to pass a polygraph exam and a background investigation. Id. ¶ 13. Ms. Edmonds passed the exam and investigation, was granted Top Secret security clearance, and began her employment with the FBI. Id. ¶ 14. The FBI allegedly assured Ms. Edmonds that her Turkish business interests would not be jeopardized due to her employment with the FBI and that she did not need to use an alias to protect her identity because her co-workers would have undergone a similar security check. Id. ¶15.

During her employment at the FBI, Ms. Edmonds reported various whistleblower allegations to management officials. She claimed that an FBI monitor, Melek Can Dickerson, previously had been employed by an organization that was a target of an ongoing FBI investigation; had ongoing contacts with investigation targets; leaked information to such targets; translated wiretaps concerning these targets; and told others not to translate such wiretaps. Id. ¶ 17. Ms. Edmonds alleges that in retaliation for her reporting this information to FBI management, Ms. Dickerson threatened to disclose Ms. Edmonds's identity to the target organization, thereby jeopardizing the safety of Ms. Edmonds and her extended family in Turkey. Id. The Complaint further alleges that Ms. Dickerson and her husband, Air Force Major Dickerson, suggested that because Ms. Edmonds was employed by the FBI, she could become a member of a certain Turkish organization, and that, as a result of such membership, she would be guaranteed a lucrative retirement in Turkey. Id. ¶18.

Ms. Edmonds wrote a memorandum on her home computer describing her allegations regarding security problems in the FBI language department. Id. ¶ 21. Later, the FBI determined that the memo contained classified information and seized her home computer. Id. On February 12, 2002, the FBI security office interviewed Ms. Edmonds about her allegations. Id. ¶ 23. The next day, the security office interviewed Ms. Dickerson. They were both deemed credible. Id. In March 2002, both Ms. Edmonds and Ms. Dickerson underwent polygraph examinations. Both denied that they had disclosed classified information, and both were determined to be truthful. Id. ¶¶ 33, 36, 39. Subsequently, the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General ("OIG"), conducted an internal investigation; the OIG determined that the FBI's investigation had been "superficial," "flawed," and "mishandled." Id. ¶¶ 23, 69.

Ms. Edmonds told her sister, who lived in Turkey, about Ms. Dickerson's threats to reveal Ms. Edmonds's identity to the target organization. Fearing for her safety, Ms. Edmonds's sister fled Turkey and moved to the United States. Id. ¶ 24. Later, the Turkish security force allegedly served a warrant at the former residence of Ms. Edmonds's sister, seeking the sister's arrest for interrogation purposes. Id. ¶¶ 41, 43.

On March 22, 2002, the FBI terminated Ms. Edmonds's employment. Id. ¶ 38. Ms. Edmonds claims that she was fired in retaliation for her whistleblower activity. The FBI contends that she had breached security rules and that "her disruptiveness hurt her on-the-job performance." Id. ¶¶ 38, 52. She contends that, when she was fired, FBI management officials made rude and disparaging comments to her. Id. ¶ 38. They escorted her from the building and did not permit her to retrieve personal items. Id.

Ms. Edmonds continued to press her accusations regarding misconduct and security breaches in the FBI's language department, notifying Attorney General Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller, and Senator Grassley of such concerns.*fn2 Id. ¶¶ 43-44. Various newspapers published articles about her accusations and cited anonymous government sources who identified Ms. Edmonds by name. Id. ¶¶ 46-49. Further, Ms. Edmonds alleges that her former supervisor discussed a newspaper article about Ms. Edmonds and her accusations at a meeting with FBI translators. Pl.'s Opp'n at 9-11. In October 2002, July 2003, and April 2004, Turkish newspapers published articles identifying Ms. Edmonds by name, stating that she betrayed Turkey by spying on Turks for the U.S. Government, and stating that she accused Turkish officials of espionage against the United States. Id. ¶¶ 55-61.

As a result of these events, Ms. Edmonds contends that she lives in fear for the safety of herself and her family and she cannot visit Turkey. Id. ¶ 68. She claims to have suffered the following economic losses:

1) she had to forfeit her share in her deceased father's clinic in Turkey because she could not travel there to sign documents entitling her to an inheritance;

2) her vacation property and investment property located in Turkey have deteriorated in value and yet these properties continue to produce maintenance expenses;

3) she had to abandon her share in a Turkish textile business;

4) she had to abandon her real estate investment ...


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