NEW YORK - More than 10 years after a Muslim-American football star, Abdullah al-Kidd, was arrested and imprisoned without any charges, the US government said in settling a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that it regretted the hardship he had to endure.

The ACLU, which sued the government on al-Kidd’s behalf in 2005, announced on Friday that it settled the decade-long lawsuit that challenged the post-9/11 practice of imprisoning Muslim men as "material witnesses", a formulation widely used in the US after the 2001 attacks to ensure suspects were available to testify in terrorism cases.

As part of the settlement, the government offered its regrets to al-Kidd, who converted to Islam while in school, and agreed to pay him $385,000 to compensate for his arrest and detention in 2003, the ACLU said in a press release.

Al-Kidd was arrested by the FBI in 2003 so that he could testify as a material witness in the trial of a student facing visa fraud charges. Authorities were able to arrest him because of a federal law intended to ensure witnesses remain available to testify in criminal proceedings.

The FBI began to question al-Kidd in the wake of the 9/11, and eventually arrested him just as he was about to board a plane for Saudi Arabia to study language and religion. He described it as “one of the most humiliating, degrading moments of my life.”

He was imprisoned for 16 days and “sometimes held naked and shackled hand and foot” in three different states’ detention facilities, the ACLU said. He was never called to testify in the visa fraud case.

In 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled that former Attorney General John Ashcroft could not be sued for damages for detaining al-Kidd.

In a letter to al-Kidd on Thursday, federal officials wrote: “The government acknowledges that your arrest and detention as a witness was a difficult experience for you and regrets any hardship or disruption to your life that may have resulted from your arrest and detention.”

“I am pleased the government has finally acknowledged the trouble it put me through and has compensated me for that trouble,” al-Kidd said in a statement Friday. “I hope no one else has to go through what I went through.”

AFP adds: Kidd was held in solitary confinement for two weeks. He was then placed on probation for 15 months. Kidd was never charged with any crime.

The student's trial resulted in a verdict of not guilty. Under the settlement, the US government offered its "regrets" and agreed to compensate Kidd, an American convert to Islam.

Kidd was held 16 days and moved to three federal prisons in three states, ACLU said. The rights group announced the settlement after suing on Kidd's behalf in a case that has spanned a decade.

"The government acknowledges that your arrest and detention as a witness was a difficult experience for you and regrets any hardship or disruption to your life that may have resulted from your arrest and detention," it quoted officials as writing to Kidd.  ACLU said it hoped the settlement would serve as a deterrent.

"The government systematically abused the material witness process after September 11," said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "This settlement and the court opinions detailing the government's unlawful actions will hopefully deter such abuses in future."