US gov't: Don't reopen Demjanjuk citizenship case

October 22, 2011 - 12:00 PM

CLEVELAND (AP) — Federal prosecutors said they will fight a "brazen" attempt to restore U.S. citizenship to a man deported to Germany and convicted on Nazi war crimes charges.

In a U.S. District Court filing Tuesday night, prosecutors said retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk was trying to cast himself as a victim following his May 12 conviction in Germany on more than 28,000 counts of accessory to murder.

Demjanjuk's attorneys charge that the government failed to disclose important evidence, namely a 1985 secret FBI report uncovered by The Associated Press. It indicates the FBI believed a Nazi ID card purportedly showing that Demjanjuk served as a death camp guard was a Soviet-made fake.

Public defender Dennis Terez, appointed to represent Demjanjuk in the matter, declined to comment Wednesday. There was no immediate comment from the family.

Demjanjuk, 91, was convicted by a court that found he had served as a guard at the Nazi's Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Demjanjuk denies serving as a guard at any camp and is free pending his appeal.

He's been in poor health for years and has been in and out of a hospital since his conviction.

He currently cannot leave Germany because he has no passport, but he could get a U.S. passport if the denaturalization ruling was overturned.

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was a Soviet Red Army soldier captured by the Germans in 1942. The Munich court found he agreed to serve the Nazis as a guard at Sobibor.

"John Demjanjuk comes before this court casting himself as the victim — of government misconduct and a 'miscarriage of justice' that led to his 2002 denaturalization," the government said in a 56-page filing accompanied by 35 exhibits.

"That claim is nothing if not brazen. The facts are that John Demjanjuk was a guard at a Nazi extermination camp (and at Nazi concentration camps) where he helped to murder thousands of innocent men, women and children."

The government asked Judge Dan Polster to reject Demjanjuk's bid to reopen his citizenship case.

While court rules allow people to file motions, "It does not give them the power to re-write history," the government said.

The government's response included an Oct. 12 affidavit from retired FBI agent Thomas Martin, who said the March 4, 1985, report written by him was based on speculation, not any investigation.

He said he had based his speculation, in part, on his understanding that the Soviet secret police "had a longstanding program designed to target dissidents living overseas, for the purpose of intimidation, threat or actual assassination."

While concerned the Nazi ID card could be a Soviet fake, Martin said in the affidavit, "I reached no conclusions about its authenticity."

The 1985 report says the Cleveland office's investigation "strongly indicated" a Soviet scheme to discredit "prominent emigre dissidents speaking out publicly and/or leading emigre groups in opposition to the Soviet leadership in the USSR."