, a convicted felon and former lawyer for former President Donald Trump
, has filed a $20 million lawsuit
against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, claiming that he was illegally returned to prison last year in retaliation for writing a critical book
about his former boss.
According to CNBC, Cohen's attorneys are also preparing a second claim alleging that then-Attorney General William Barr
and Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal violated Cohen's First Amendment
right to free speech
by re-incarcerating him.
Midway through his three-year sentence for campaign finance
violations, tax evasion, and lying to Congress
, Cohen was released
from prison to home detention in May 2020, amidst the COVID-19
But, just two months later, he was abruptly returned to prison and reportedly asked not to speak to the media.
The claim contends that government officials committed “false arrest
, false imprisonment, abuse
of process, wrongful confinement, and retaliation” against Cohen for criticizing Trump and writing a book about him.
According to CNBC, Cohen, 54, claims that his reincarceration caused him “emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of freedom.”
After more than two weeks in prison, a Manhattan
federal court judge
ordered Cohen's release, ruling that his incarceration was "retaliatory in response to Cohen intending to exercise
his First Amendment rights to publish a book critical of the President and discuss the book on social media
In a statement, Cohen's attorney, Jeffrey Levine, warned that such "unacceptable and constitutionally violating behavior" could be directed at any of them.
The government has six months to respond to Cohen's claim; if it does not, Cohen may sue the government and other defendants.
A request for comment from the Bureau of Prisons was not immediately returned.