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Miller & Chevalier Wins $50 Million Judgment Against Syria on Behalf of Imprisoned American

Washington, DC, January 2, 2024 – Miller & Chevalier Chartered has secured a judgment of nearly $50 million against the Syrian government on behalf of Kevin Dawes, an American citizen who was kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured for nearly four years by the Syrian government. 

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras said that "the character of Syria's acts is reprehensible and deserving of the most severe condemnation."

Dawes was confined to a windowless cell and subjected to repeated torture by Syrian Military Intelligence. As a result of his mistreatment, he suffered a concussion, permanent nerve damage, and other physical ailments that, as Judge Contreras wrote, "caused Dawes profound and lasting agony." 

Dawes was released in April 2016, in large part due to information provided by a fellow prisoner, British orthopedic surgeon Abbas Khan, who died in custody. A British jury later ruled that Khan was "deliberately and intentionally killed without any legal justification."

Dawes is eligible for payment of the judgment from the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (USVSST Fund), which was established by and is funded with sanctions proceeds. 

"Countries that engage in violations of international human rights law must be held accountable, and brave torture victims like Kevin Dawes bring these atrocities to light for the world to witness. In so doing, Kevin's voice was heard. Kevin continues to struggle in the aftermath of this tragedy." said Kirby Behre, a Member in Miller & Chevalier's Litigation Department who served as lead counsel on Dawes' behalf. "This judgment will be life-changing for him — and will serve as yet another symbol of progress in the ongoing fight to expose and punish the nation-states who commit these heinous crimes." 

Dawes was represented by Behre and Miller & Chevalier attorney Cody Marden.

About Miller & Chevalier 

Founded in 1920, Miller & Chevalier is a Washington, DC law firm with a global perspective and leading practices in Tax, International Law, Litigation, ERISA, White Collar Defense and Internal Investigations, Government Contracts, Government Affairs, and Business & Human Rights. Miller & Chevalier is a top-ranked firm sharply focused on targeted areas that interact with the federal government. A significant number of firm lawyers have held senior positions in the U.S. government and have written many of the regulations they currently help clients navigate. For more information on the firm, visit

About Business & Human Rights at Miller & Chevalier 

Miller & Chevalier's Business and Human Rights (BHR) practice draws on our deep experience in compliance counseling, investigations, and litigation to provide tailored strategies to help companies comply with BHR and related standards, live up to internal and external stakeholder expectations and core values, avoid violations that create reputational and operational risk, and investigate and defend against alleged violations. We bring a rigorous and holistic approach to compliance, developed through decades of leadership in the fields of FCPA & International Anti-Corruption, Customs & Import Trade, and Economic Sanctions & Export Controls, in which we have assisted companies in a broad range of industries under close scrutiny by law enforcement agencies and the public.



Laura Miller, Greentarget, 312.252.4104