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Thursday, June 17, 2010

IMPORTANT:Secret Detention Report

Andy Worthington

UN Human Rights Council Discusses Secret Detention Report

On June 3, largely unnoticed in the Western media, the UN Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue to discuss the “Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Counter-Terrorism,” prepared by Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Shaheen Ali, the vice-chair of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, and Jeremy Sarkin, the chair of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.
The study (A/HRC/13/42) was published on February 19, 2010, and is available here as a PDF. Over the course of this week, I’ll also be publishing section 4 of the report, dealing with US policies since the 9/11 attacks, in three separate sections. The first examines “The ‘high-value detainee’ programme and CIA secret detention facilities,” the second looks at “CIA detention facilities or facilities operated jointly with United States military in battlefield zones,” and the third looks at “Proxy detention sites,” “Complicity in the practice of secret detention” and “Secret detention and the Obama administration.” An advance unedited version of the report was published on January 26, which I discussed in an article at the time, entitled, “UN Secret Detention Report Asks, ‘Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?’”
The report focused on 66 countries involved in the secret detention of terrorist suspects since 9/11. Many of these — including European countries, Canada, Australia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Syria and Pakistan — were tied in with the activities of the United States, in the section of the report mentioned above, which collated information about US policies involving “extraordinary rendition” and secret prisons, focusing on the most up-to-date information about the 98 prisoners held in the CIA’s secret prisons, and the many dozens of others subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture in other countries, where they were sent by the CIA.
In addition, 25 other countries — including Algeria, China, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe — were also included, in a section analyzing the nature and scope of secret detention practices around the world
In my article in January, I also explained that, in the report, the experts concluded that, “On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” and that, “If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity.” Moreover, as IPS explained on June 3, the report also notes that many countries, citing national security concerns, which are “often perceived or presented as unprecedented emergencies or threats,” resort to secret detention, even though “International law clearly prohibits secret detention, which violates a number of human rights and humanitarian law norms that may not be derogated [from] under any circumstances.”
In the months since the report was published, its progress towards discussion in the Human Rights Council was almost derailed in March, when Russia, a number of African countries and the Organization of the Islamic Conference objected to it, claiming that the experts “violated the [UN] code of conduct and acted outside [their] mandates.” These criticisms, which delayed the discussion of the report until June 3, prompted Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, to condemn them as “a totally political consideration” and to point out:
We are independent experts — the eyes and ears of the council — and we provided it with a report drawing their attention to a very serious worldwide problem based on a great deal of work over the past year. Secret detention is not just a minor human rights violation; it’s a crime, a major human rights violation … I am seriously concerned by the way states at the Human Rights Council are treating their own independent experts. The council should stop criticizing its own experts and start taking human rights seriously and collaborating with its independent experts to address major human rights violations by the states that are responsible.
As a result of this dissent, the discussion of the report two weeks ago was something of a triumph, although it remains to be seen whether the Human Rights Council will respond positively to the experts’ call for a resolution on secret detention, demanding “explicit legislation prohibiting secret and other unofficial detention, the mandatory keeping of detention records and independent inspection of all detention sites,” as well as the immediate closure of all secret detention facilities, and compensation for those subjected to secret detention.
Manfred Nowak told the Human Rights Council, “We think this is enough evidence that the council should take action,” and in the debate the experts stated that “secret detention should be explicitly prohibited along with all other forms of unofficial detention,” and noted, “In almost no recent cases have there been any judicial investigations into allegations of secret detentions and practically no one has been brought to justice.”
After the debate, Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism, said it was “clear from the debate that the issue had not been brushed away despite months of delay,” as the Swiss website Expatica described it. Speaking to journalists, Scheinin said, “I don’t think the Human Rights Council can ignore the need for inquiries at domestic level, that will necessarily be part of the package.”
Despite the experts’ hopes, Deutsche Welle noted that a detailed questionnaire that experts sent to the UN’s 192 member countries was only answered by 44 of those countries, and, moreover, “Of these, not one admitted to the existence of secret prisons. The report’s authors depended on independent sources for their investigation and many countries denied them any kind of access to relevant materials or sources.”
The article also noted, “During the debate, China, Russia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Algeria and other African nations denied that any secret detention facilities existed on their territory.” Revisiting the complaints they made when the report was first published, “They accused the report’s authors of sloppy research, of overstepping their mandate and of compiling the report without being commissioned to do so by the UN Human Rights Council.” A sign of the kind of dissent that surfaced can be found in comments made by Syria’s representative, who, despite the country’s well-known human rights abuses in its prisons, stated, “We are concerned at the unprofessional way in which the report was written and presented. The report makes use of unverified allegations by non-credible parties and presents them as fact.”
Nevertheless, reflecting on the discussion, Martin Scheinin told IPS, “It went better than expected. The report has been very controversial and now there appears to be acknowledgement that the issue is serious enough not to be trivialized by procedural filibustery.” He added that a number of countries who were originally opposed to the report, like Egypt, “chose not to speak” at the meeting, rather than raising objections, although he acknowledged the complaints of Syria, Russia and Algeria (speaking on behalf of the African Group), and specific complaints raised by Canada, China, Ethiopia, and Nepal.
As Deutsche Welle also explained, however, “Only a few UN states, including Sweden, Canada and South Africa, gave their unreserved approval to the report during the debate of the Human Rights Council,” and although the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, made it clear that the dark days of John Bolton (President Bush’s ambassador, who had nothing but contempt for the UN) were long gone, her attempts to deflect attention from scrutiny of the US rendition and torture program, by mentioning President’s Obama promise to close Guantánamo, were weak for two reasons.
The first of these is because the President has, in fact, failed to close the prison, having missed his self-imposed deadline for doing so, and no new date has been set for its closure; and the second is that, as Deutsche Welle also noted, Susan Rice “made no comment on the Bagram facility, the main detention facility for persons detained by US forces in Afghanistan, or other formerly secret prisons in third countries where American officials sent prisoners who were then often subjected to harsh interrogation procedures or torture.”
Even so, the experts were obviously relieved that the US had not opposed the report. Shaheen Ali explained that the US ambassador to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe, “backed the study although she raised concerns about the methodology used in preparing it,” and Martin Scheinin added that, although, as “a matter of international law,” the Obama administration was “continuing to violate their human rights obligations by not closing” Guantánamo and by not holding trials for those held there, “on the domestic level and on the policy level, I understand the situation. The government is unable to do anything when the legislature prohibits part of the options available, namely taking a single person from Guantánamo to the mainland United States.” As a result, he said, he understood that the focus is on convincing third countries to offer homes to prisoners cleared for release, who cannot be repatriated because of fears that they will be tortured in their home countries.
Without accountability for the crimes committed under the Bush administration, and explanations of what happened to the significant number of prisoners held in the secret prison network — beyond those who ended up at Guantánamo, who were released (in a few cases) or who, like Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, were repatriated and later killed — the experts’ call for secret detention to be brought to an end will lack the kind of impact that will make other countries think twice about aping US policies, or continuing with the kind of policies that inspired the Bush administration in the first place.
In the report, President Obama got off lightly given recent reports of dubious detention and interrogation practices in Afghanistan — even though, just the day before the discussion of the report in the Human Rights Council, Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, issued a report on America’s “targeted killing” program using drones, and told the Council that it amounted to “a license to kill without accountability.” With reference to what he described as the “prolific” US use of “targeted killings,” which also echoed what happened with President Bush’s program of “extraordinary rendition,” secret detention and torture, Alston explained that the US was “setting a damaging example that other countries would follow,” as Middle East Online described it.
“I’m particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe,” Alston told the Council, adding, “In a situation in which there is no disclosure of who has been killed, for what reason, and whether innocent civilians have died, the legal principle of international accountability is, by definition, comprehensively violated.”
Alston’s report helped to shine a light on the extent to which drone killings have replaced the messy business of “extraordinary rendition,” torture and secret prisons under the Obama administration, further undercutting Susan Rice’s protestations about President Obama’s record, and reinforcing how important the role of the United States is in shaping internationally acceptable standards for dealing with terrorism.
It is not enough for President Obama to maintain, as he has since before taking office, that his administration wants to “look forward and not backwards.” By doing so, he ensures that the crimes of the previous administration not only remain largely hidden (as the report demonstrates), but, more importantly, a message is sent out to the rest of the world that those at the highest levels of the US government who commit crimes that “might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity” continue to demonstrate, through their speeches and tours, that they are, to all intents and purposes, beyond the law.
And with the continuing exposure of his own forays into similar territory through the CIA’s “targeted killings” program, President Obama also needs to reflect on his own responsibility to uphold “the legal principle of international accountability” whose wreckage is so thoroughly exposed in the UN’s secret detention report.

UN Secret Detention Report (Part One): The CIA’s “High-Value Detainee” Program and Secret Prisons

To complement my recent article, “UN Human Rights Council Discusses Secret Detention Report,” in which I explained how, two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights Council had — after some delays — finally discussed the findings of the “Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Counter-Terrorism,” a detailed, 186-page report issued in February (PDF), I’m posting the section of the report that deals with US secret detention policies since the 9/11 attacks, in the hope that it might reach a new audience — and provide useful research opportunities — as an HTML document.
I do, however, urge everyone to read the whole report, because the introduction and conclusions are important, as are the sections establishing the legal approach to secret detention and its historical context, the section detailing current practices in 25 other countries worldwide, and the annexes, which contain government responses to a questionnaire about secret detention, and a number of case studies.
Given the length of this section of the report (pp. 43-89), I’m publishing it in three parts. The first, published below, provides an introduction, and deals with “The ‘high-value detainee’ programme and CIA secret detention facilities,” the second looks at “CIA detention facilities or facilities operated jointly with United States military in battlefield zones,” and the third looks at “Proxy detention sites,” “Complicity in the practice of secret detention” and “Secret detention and the Obama administration.”
Please note that I have inserted hyperlinks where possible. However, the original report contains footnotes, and not all of these provide links to websites. In most cases, I have added the information contained in the footnotes in square brackets, but for full details, please see the original.

Excerpts from the UN “Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Counter-Terrorism,” February 2010

Prepared by Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Shaheen Ali, the vice-chair of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, and Jeremy Sarkin, the chair of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.
98. In spite of the prominent role played by the United States of America in the development of international human rights and humanitarian law, and its position as a global leader in the protection of human rights at home and abroad following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. on 11 September 2001, the United States embarked on a process of reducing and removing various human rights and other protection mechanisms through various laws and administrative acts, including the Authorization for Use of Military Force, the USA Patriot Act of 2001, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (which sought to remove habeas corpus rights), as well as various executive orders and memoranda issued by the Office of Legal Counsel that interpreted the position of the United States on a number of issues, including torture. It also sanctioned the establishment of various classified programmes much more narrowly than before [A/HRC/6/17/Add.3, para. 3].
99. The Government of the United States declared a global “war on terror”, in which individuals captured around the world were to be held neither as criminal suspects, put forward for federal court trials in the United States, nor treated as prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Conventions, irrespective of whether they had been captured on the battlefield during what could be qualified as an armed conflict in terms of international humanitarian law. Rather, they were to be treated indiscriminately as “unlawful enemy combatants” who could be held indefinitely without charge or trial or the possibility to challenge the legality of their detention before a court or other judicial authority.
100. On 7 February 2002, the President of the United States issued a memorandum [PDF] declaring that “common article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either Al-Qaida or Taliban detainees”, that “Taliban detainees are unlawful combatants and, therefore, do not qualify as prisoners of war under article 4 of Geneva”, and that “because Geneva does not apply to our conflict with Al-Qaida, Al-Qaida detainees also do not qualify as prisoners of war”. This unprecedented departure from the Geneva Conventions was to be offset by a promise that, “as a matter of policy, the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva”. This detention policy was defended by the Government in various submissions to the United Nations [See for example CCPR/C/USA/CO/3/Rev.1/Add.1, p. 3; A/HRC/4/41, paras. 453 - 455; and A/HRC/4/40, para. 12], including on 10 October 2007, when the Government stated that the law of war, and not the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, was the applicable legal framework governing the detentions of “enemy combatants” [CCPR/C/USA/CO/3/Rev.1/Add.1, p. 3], and therefore such detentions did not fall within the mandate of the special procedures mandate holders [CCPR/C/USA/3, para. 456, and A/HRC/4/40, para. 12].
101. By using this war paradigm, the United States purported to limit the applicable legal framework of the law of war (international humanitarian law) and exclude any application of human rights law. Even if and when human rights law were to apply, the Government was of the view that it was not bound by human rights law outside the territory of the United States. Therefore, by establishing detention centres in Guantanamo Bay and other places around the world, the United States was of the view that human rights law would not be applicable there. Guantanamo and other places of detention outside United States territory were intended to be outside the reach of domestic courts for habeas corpus applications by those held in custody in those places. One of the consequences of this policy was that many detainees were kept secretly and without access to the protection accorded to those in custody, namely the protection of the Geneva Conventions, international human rights law, the United States Constitution and various other domestic laws. [In its October 2007 submission to the Human Rights Committee, the Government reaffirmed its long-standing position that “the Covenant does not apply extraterritorially” (CCPR/C/USA/CO/3/Rev.1/Add.1, p. 2)].
102. The secret detention policy took many forms. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established its own secret detention facilities to interrogate so-called “high value detainees”. It asked partners with poor human rights records to secretly detain and interrogate persons on its behalf. When the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq started, the United States secretly held persons in battlefield detention sites for prolonged periods of time. The present chapter therefore focuses on various secret detention sites and those held there, and also highlights examples of the complicity of other States.
A.  The “high-value detainee” programme and CIA secret detention facilities
103. On 17 September 2001, President Bush sent a 12-page memorandum to the Director of the CIA through the National Security Council, which authorized the CIA to detain terrorists and set up detention facilities outside the United States [PDF]. Until 2005, when the United Nations sent its first of many communications regarding this programme to the Government of the United States, little was known about the extent and the details of the secret detention programme. Only in May 2009 could a definitive number of detainees in the programme be established. In a released, yet still redacted, memo, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. Bradbury stated that, to date, the CIA had “taken custody of 94 detainees [redacted], and had employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of those detainees.” [PDF, footnote, p. 5]
104. In the report of 2007 on his country visit to the United States (A/HRC/6/17/Add.3), the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism described what was known at that time of these “enhanced techniques” and how they were regarded:
As a result of an apparent internal leak from the CIA, the media in the United States learned and published information about “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the CIA in its interrogation of terrorist suspects and possibly other persons held because of their links with such suspects. Various sources have spoken of techniques involving physical and psychological means of coercion, including stress positions, extreme temperature changes, sleep deprivation, and “waterboarding” (means by which an interrogated person is made to feel as if drowning). With reference to the well-established practice of bodies such as the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture, the Special Rapporteur concludes that these techniques involve conduct that amounts to a breach of the prohibition against torture and any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
105. Several of the 28 detainees who, according to Mr. Bradbury, were subjected to “enhanced techniques to varying degrees” were also “high value detainees”. Fourteen people were transferred from secret CIA custody in an undisclosed location to confinement at the Defense Department’s detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, as announced by President Bush on 6 September 2006. They were:
  • Abu Zubaydah (Palestinian), captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on 28 March 2002
  • Ramzi bin al-Shibh (Yemeni), captured in Karachi, Pakistan, on 11 September 2002
  • Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (Saudi), captured in the United Arab Emirates in October or November 2002
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Pakistani), captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on 1 March 2003
  • Mustafa al-Hawsawi (Saudi), captured with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on 1 March 2003
  • Majid Khan (Pakistani), captured in Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 March 2003
  • Waleed Mohammed bin Attash (Yemeni), also known as Khallad, captured in Karachi, Pakistan, on 29 April 2003
  • Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali (Pakistani) also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, captured with Waleed bin Attash in Karachi, Pakistan, on 29 April 2003
  • Mohammed Farik bin Amin (Malaysian), also known as Zubair, captured in Bangkok on 8 June 2003
  • Riduan Isamuddin (Indonesian), also known as Hambali, also known as Encep Nuraman, captured in Ayutthaya, Thailand, on 11 August 2003
  • Mohammed Nazir bin Lep (Malaysian), also known as Lillie, captured in Bangkok on 11 August 2003
  • Gouled Hassan Dourad (Somali), also known as Haned Hassan Ahmad Guleed, captured in Djibouti on 4 March 2004
  • Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (Tanzanian), captured in Gujrat, Pakistan, on 25 July 2004
  • Abu Faraj al-Libi (Libyan), also known as Mustafa Faraj al-Azibi, captured in Mardan, Pakistan, on 2 May 2005 [A/HRC/4/40/Add.1. Pentagon biographies are available here (PDF)]
106. Beyond the transcripts of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, held in 2007 [PDF], and the facts reported in opinion No. 29/2006 (United States of America), adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on 1 September 2006 [A/HRC/4/40/Add.1], the only available source on the conditions in the above-mentioned facilities is a report by ICRC leaked to the media by United States Government officials [PDF]. In spite of the fact that the ICRC report was never officially published, the experts decided to refer to it since information on the 14 was scarce and the United States of America, in spite of requests to be allowed to speak to Guantanamo detainees, did not authorize them to do so. That report details the treatment that most of the 14 had described during individual interviews, and concluded that there had been cases of beatings, kicking, confinement in a box, forcible shaving, threats, sleep deprivation, deprivation/restriction on food provisions, stress positions, exposure to cold temperatures/cold water, suffocation by water and so on. It stressed that, for the entire detention periods, which ranged from 16 months to more than 3 and a half years, all 14 persons had been held in solitary confinement and incommunicado detention. According to the report, they had no knowledge of where they were being held, and no contact with persons other than their interrogators or guards.” ICRC concluded that:
Twelve of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to systematic physical and/or psychological ill-treatment. This was a consequence of both the treatment and the material conditions which formed part of the interrogation regime, as well as the overall detention regime. This regime was clearly designed to undermine human dignity and to create a sense of futility by inducing, in many cases, severe physical and mental pain and suffering, with the aim of obtaining compliance and extracting information, resulting in exhaustion, depersonalization and dehumanization. The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly, or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel inhuman or degrading treatment.”
107. Despite the acknowledgement in September 2006 by President Bush of the existence of secret CIA detention facilities, the United States Government and the Governments of the States that hosted these facilities have generally refused to disclose their location or even existence. The specifics of the secret sites have, for the most part, been revealed through off-the-record disclosures.
108. In November 2005, for example, the Washington Post referred to “current and former intelligence officers and two other US Government officials” as sources for the contention that there had been a secret CIA black site or safe house in Thailand, “which included underground interrogation cells”. One month later, ABC News reported on the basis of testimonies from “current and former CIA officers” that Abu Zubaydah had been:
… whisked by the CIA to Thailand where he was housed in a small, disused warehouse on an active airbase. There, his cell was kept under 24-hour closed circuit TV surveillance and his life-threatening wounds were tended to by a CIA doctor specially sent from Langley headquarters to assure Abu Zubaydah was given proper care, sources said. Once healthy, he was slapped, grabbed, made to stand long hours in a cold cell, and finally handcuffed and strapped feet up to a water board until after 0.31 seconds he begged for mercy and began to cooperate.
The details of Abu Zubaydah’s treatment have been confirmed by his initial FBI interrogator, who hasnot confirmed or denied that the location where Abu Zubaydah was held was in Thailand. TheWashington Post also reported that the officials had stated that Ramzi bin al-Shibh had been flown to Thailand after his capture. The New York Times again stated in 2006 that Abu Zubaydah was held in Thailand “according to accounts from five former and current government officials who were briefed on the case.” In January 2008, the Asia Times reported that political analysts and diplomats in Thailand suspected that the detention facility was “situated at a military base in the northeastern province of Udon Thani”.
109. The sources of the Washington Post stated that, after “published reports revealed the existence of the site in June 2003, Thai officials insisted the CIA shut it down”. The New York Times alleged later that local officials were said to be growing uneasy about “a black site outside Bangkok code-named Cat’s Eye” and that this was a reason for the CIA to want “its own, more permanent detention centers”.
110. In 2008, the Washington Post described on the basis of interviews with “more than two dozen current and former U.S. officials” how a “classified cable” had been sent between the CIA station chief in Bangkok and his superiors “asking if he could destroy videotapes recorded at a secret CIA prison in Thailand … from August to December 2002 to demonstrate that interrogators were following the detailed rules set by lawyers and medical experts in Washington, and were not causing a detainee’s death.” The newspaper also reported “several of the inspector general’s deputies traveled to Bangkok to view the tapes.” The Office of the Inspector General reviewed 92 videotapes in May 2003, 12 of which included “enhanced interrogation techniques” and identified 83 waterboarding sessions on Abu Zubaydah at a “foreign site”. From the OIG report it seems that Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were detained and interrogated at the same place [PDF, paras. 74 and 91]. This information could not be verified, as the location of the interrogation is redacted in the report of the CIA Officer General, although independent sources informed the experts that the facility was indeed in Thailand and that it was known as the “Cat’s Eye”. The videotapes were however allegedly destroyed in November 2005 by the CIA and, according to the New York Times, the tapes had been held “in a safe at the CIA station in Thailand, the country where two detainees — Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — were interrogated.”
111. In its submission for the present study, the Government of Thailand denied the existence of a secret detention facility in Thailand in 2002/03, stating that international and local media had visited the suspected places and found no evidence of such a facility. In the light of the detailed nature of the allegations, however, the experts believe it credible that a CIA black site existed in Thailand, and calls on the domestic authorities to launch an independent investigation into the matter.
112. In June 2007, in a report submitted to the Council of Europe, rapporteur Dick Marty stated that he had enough “evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania.” [PDF. In its response to the report, Romania contested the evidentiary basis of the findings concerning Romania]. The report drew on testimony from over 30 current and former members of intelligence services in the United States and from Europe. According to the Rapporteur, the Romanian “black site” was allegedly in force from 2003 to the second half of 2005. He also noted that “the majority of the detainees brought to Romania were, according to our sources, extracted ‘out of [the] theater of conflict’. This phrase is understood as a reference to detainee transfers originating from Afghanistan and, later, Iraq”. In August 2009, former United States intelligence officials disclosed to the New York Times that Kyle D. Foggo, at that time head of the CIA’s main European supply base in Frankfurt, oversaw the construction of three CIA detention centres, “each built to house about a half-dozen detainees”. They added that “one jail was a renovated building on a busy street in Bucharest”.
113. While the identities of many detainees who were held in these facilities have not been revealed yet, it is known that on or around 24 April 2004, Mohammed al-Asad (see para. 133 below) was transferred with at least two other people from Afghanistan to an unknown, modern facility apparently run by United States officials, which was carefully designed to induce maximum disorientation, dependence and stress in the detainees. Descriptions of the facility and its detention regime were given by Mr. al-Asad to Amnesty International, which established that he had been held in the same place as two other Yemeni men, Salah Ali and Mohammed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah. Research into flight durations and the observations of Mr. al-Asad, Mr. Ali, and Mr. Bashmilah suggest that the facility was likely located in Eastern Europe. Mr. al-Asad was held in a rectangular cell approximately 3.5 x 2.5 m, in which he was chained to the floor in the corner. The first night, Mr. al-Asad was kept naked in his cell. The cell included a speaker, which played noise similar to an engine or machine, and two cameras. For most of his time in the facility, the light in his cell was kept on all night. At one point, Mr. al-Asad met with a man who identified himself as the prison director and claimed that he had just flown in from Washington, D.C. Similarly, Mr. Bashmilah described how the facility where he was held was much more modern than the one in Afghanistan. White noise was blasted into his cell, the light was kept on constantly, and he was kept shackled. The guards in the facility were completely dressed in black, including black face masks, and communicated to one another by hand gestures only. The interrogators spoke to each other in English and referred to information arriving from Washington, D.C. [Declaration of Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in support of plaintiffs’ opposition to the motion of the United States to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgement, Civil Action No. 5:07-cv-02798 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division. See also “Surviving the Darkness”, a report by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law (PDF), pp. 34-35]. On 5 March 2005, the United States informed Yemen that Mr. Bashmilah was in American custody. On 5 May 2005, Mr. Bashmilah was transferred to Yemen, along with two other Yemeni nationals, Mr. al-Asad and Salah Nasser Salim Ali Darwish.
114. In Poland, eight high-value detainees, including Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Tawfiq [Waleed] bin Attash and Ahmed Khalfan [al-]Ghailani, were allegedly held between 2003 and 2005 in the village of Stare Kiejkuty [PDF, p. 25. In his report, Dick Marty also noted that “a single CIA source told us that there were ‘up to a dozen’ high-value detainees in Poland in 2005, but we were unable to confirm this number”]. According to the leaked ICRC report, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew that he was in Poland when he received a bottle of water with a Polish label. According to ABC News, in 2005, Hassan Ghul and Mohammed Omar Abdel-Rahman were also detained in the facility in Poland [also see Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, opinion No. 29/2006 (United States of America) (A/HRC/4/40/Add.1, para. 15., and this March 2003 Fox News report]. The Polish press subsequently claimed that the authorities of Poland — during the term of office of President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Prime Minister Leszek Miller — had assigned a team of “around a dozen” intelligence officers to cooperate with the United States on Polish soil, thereby putting them under exclusive American control and had permitted American “special purpose planes” to land on the territory of Poland [Edyta Żemła, Mariusz Kowalewski, “Polski wywiad w służbie CIA”, Rzeczpospolita, 15 April 2009]. The existence of the facility has always been denied by the Government of Poland and press reports have indicated that it is unclear what Polish authorities knew about the facility.
115. While denying that any terrorists had been detained in Poland, Zbigniew Siemiątkowski, the head of the Polish Intelligence Agency in the period 2002-2004, confirmed the landing of CIA flights [Adam Krzykowski , Mariusz Kowalewski, ‘Politycy przeczą’ Rzeczpospolita, 15 April 2009]. Earlier, the Marty report had included information from civil aviation records revealing how CIA-operated planes used for detainee transfers landed at Szymany airport, near the town of Szczytno, in Warmia-Mazuria province in north-eastern Poland, and at the Mihail Kogalniceanu military airfield in Romania between 2003 and 2005. Marty also explained how flights to Poland were disguised by using fake flight plans.
116. In research conducted for the present study, complex aeronautical data, including “data strings” retrieved and analysed, have added further to this picture of flights disguised using fake flight plans and also front companies [Data strings are exchanges of messages or digital data, mostly in the form of coded text and numbers between different entities around the world on aeronautical telecommunications networks]. For example, a flight from Bangkok to Szymany, Poland, on 5 December 2002 (stopping at Dubai) was identified, though it was disguised under multiple layers of secrecy, including charter and sub-contracting arrangements that would avoid there being any discernible “fingerprints” of a United States Government operation, as well as the filing of “dummy” flight plans. The experts were made aware of the role of the CIA chief aviation contractor through sources in the United States. The modus operandi was to charter private aircraft from among a wide variety of companies across the United States, on short-term leases to match the specific needs of the CIA Air Branch. Through retrieval and analysis of aeronautical data, including data strings, it is possible to connect the aircraft N63MU with three named American corporations, each of which provided cover in a different set of aviation records for the operation of December 2002. The aircraft’s owner was and remains “International Group LLC”; its registered operator for the period in question was “First Flight Management”; and its registered user in the records of the Eurocontrol Central Route Charges Office, which handles the payment of bills, was “Universal Weather”. Nowhere in the aviation records generated by this aircraft is there any explicit recognition that it carried out a mission associated with the CIA. Research for the present study also made clear that the aviation services provider Universal Trip Support Services filed multiple dummy flight plans for the N63MU in the period from 3 to 6 December 2002. In a report, the CIA Inspector General discussed the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Two United States sources with knowledge of the high-value detainees programme informed the experts that a passage revealing that “enhanced interrogation of al-Nashiri continued through 4 December 2002” and another, partially redacted, which stated that:
However, after being moved, al-Nashiri was thought to have been withholding information”, indicate that it was at this time that he was rendered to Poland. The passages are partially redacted because they explicitly state the facts of al-Nashiri’s rendition — details which remain classified as “Top Secret” [PDF, paras. 76 and 224].
117. Using a similar analysis of complex aeronautical data, including data strings, research was also able to demonstrate that a Boeing 737 aircraft, registered with the Federal Aviation Administration as N313P, flew to Romania in September 2003. The aircraft took off from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. on Saturday 20 September 2003, and undertook a four-day flight “circuit”, during which it landed in and departed from six different foreign territories — the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Morocco — as well as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Focus was also placed on a flight between the two listed European “black site” locations — namely from Szymany (Poland) to Bucharest — on the night of 22 September 2003, although it was conceivable that as many as five consecutive individual routes on this circuit — beginning in Tashkent, concluding in Guantanamo — may have involved transfers of detainees in the custody of the CIA. The experts were not able to identify any definitive evidence of a detainee transfer into Romania taking place prior to the flight circuit.
118. In its response to the questionnaire sent by the experts, Poland stated that:
On 11 March 2008, the district Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw instituted proceedings on the alleged existence of so-called secret CIA detention facilities in Poland as well as the illegal transport and detention of persons suspected of terrorism. On 1 April 2009, as result of the reorganization of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation was referred to the Appellate Prosecutor Office in Warsaw. In the course of investigation, the prosecutors gathered evidence, which is considered classified or secret. In order to secure the proper course of proceedings, the prosecutors who conduct the investigation are bound by the confidentiality of the case. In this connection, it is impossible to present any information regarding the findings of the investigation. Once the proceedings are completed and its results and findings are made public the Government of Poland will present and submit all necessary or requested information to any international body.
While the experts appreciate the fact that an investigation has been opened into the existence of places of secret detention in Poland, they are concerned about the lack of transparency into the investigation. After 18 months, still nothing is known about the exact scope of the investigation. The experts expect that any such investigation would not be limited to the question of whether Polish officials had created an “extraterritorial zone” in Poland, but also whether officials were aware that “enhanced interrogation techniques” were applied there.
119.  In its response to the questionnaire sent by the experts, Romania provided a copy of the report of the Committee of Enquiry of Parliament concerning the investigation of the statements on the existence of CIA imprisonment centres or of flights of aircraft hired by the CIA on the territory of Romania.
120. With regard to Europe, ABC News recently reported that Lithuanian officials had provided the CIA with a building where as many as eight terrorist suspects were held for more than a year, until late 2005, when they were moved because of public disclosure of the programme [also see this statement by Dick Marty]. More details emerged in November 2009 when ABC News reported that the facility was built inside an exclusive riding academy in Antaviliai. Research for the present study, including data strings relating to Lithuania, appears to confirm that Lithuania was integrated into the secret detention programme in 2004. Two flights from Afghanistan to Vilnius could be identified: the first, from Bagram, on 20 September 2004, the same day that 10 detainees previously held in secret detention, in a variety of countries, were flown to Guantanamo; the second, from Kabul, on 28 July 2005. The dummy flight plans filed for the flights into Vilnius customarily used airports of destination in different countries altogether, excluding any mention of a Lithuanian airport as an alternate or back-up landing point.
121. On 25 August 2009, the President of Lithuania announced that her Government would investigate allegations that Lithuania had hosted a secret detention facility. On 5 November 2009, the Lithuanian Parliament opened an investigation into the allegation of the existence of a CIA secret detention on Lithuanian territory. In its submission for the present study, the Government of Lithuania provided the then draft findings of this investigation, which in the meantime had been adopted by the full Parliament. In its findings, the Seimas Committee stated that the State Security Department (SSD) had received requests to “equip facilities in Lithuania suitable for holding detainees”. In relation to the first facility, the Committee found that “conditions were created for holding detainees in Lithuania”. The Committee could not conclude, however, that the premises were also used for that purpose. In relation to the second facility, the Committee found that:
The persons who gave testimony to the Committee deny any preconditions for and possibilities of holding and interrogating detainees … However, the layout of the building, its enclosed nature and protection of the perimeter as well as fragmented presence of the SSD staff in the premises allowed for the performance of actions by officers of the partners without the control of the SSD and use of the infrastructure at their discretion.
The report also found that there was no evidence that the SSD had informed the President, the Prime Minister or other political leaders of the purposes and contents of its cooperation with the CIA regarding these two premises.
122. While the experts welcome the work of the Seimas Committee as an important starting point in the quest for truth about the role played by Lithuania in the secret detention and rendition programme, they stress that its findings can in no way constitute the final word on the country’s role. On 14 January 2010, President Dalia Grybauskaite rightly urged Lithuanian prosecutors to launch a deeper investigation into secret CIA black sites held on the country’s territory without parliamentary approval.
123. The experts stress that all European Governments are obliged under the European Convention of Human Rights to investigate effectively allegations of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment [See for example Assenov et al v. Bulgaria,judgement of 28 October 1998]. Failure to investigate effectively might lead to a situation of grave impunity, besides being injurious to victims, their next of kin and society as a whole, and fosters chronic recidivism of the human rights violations involved. The experts also note that the European Court of Human Rights has applied the test of whether “the authorities reacted effectively to the complaints at the relevant time” [Labita v Italy, application no. 26772/95, judgement of 6 April 2000, para. 131]. A thorough investigation should be capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible for any ill treatment; it “must be ‘effective’ in practice as well as in law, in particular in the sense that its exercise must not be unjustifiably hindered by the acts or the omissions of the authorities” [See Aksoy v. Turkey, judgement of December 1996, para 95; and Kaya v. Turkey, judgement of 19 February 1998, para 106]. Furthermore, according to the European Court, authorities must always make a serious attempt to find out what happened [See Timurtas v. Turkey, judgement of 13 June 2000, para. 88] and “should not rely on hasty or ill-founded conclusions to close their investigation or as the basis of their decisions” [Assenov v. Bulgaria, op. cit., para. 104].
124. According to two high-ranking Government officials at the time, revelations about the existence of detention facilities in Eastern Europe in late 2005 by the Washington Post and ABC News led the CIA to close its facilities in Lithuania and Romania and move the Al-Qaida detainees out of Europe. It is not known where these persons were transferred; they could have been moved into “war zone facilities” in Iraq and Afghanistan or to another black site, potentially in Africa. The experts were not able to find the exact destination of the 16 high-value detainees between December 2005 and their move to Guantanamo in September 2006. No other explanation has been provided for the whereabouts of the detainees before they were moved to Guantanamo in September 2006.
125. Other locations have been mentioned as the venues for secret detention facilities outside territories under United States control (or operated jointly with the United States military). The first is Guantanamo, which was mentioned by the United States officials who spoke to the Washington Post in 2005, when it was reported that the detention facility had existed “on the grounds of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay”, but that “some time in 2004, the CIA decided it had to give [it] up … The CIA had planned to convert it into a state-of-the-art facility, operated independently of the military [but] pulled out when US courts began to exercise greater control over the military detainees, and agency officials feared judges would soon extend the same type of supervision over their detainees”. More recently, former Guantanamo Bay guards have described “an unnamed and officially unacknowledged” compound located out of sight from the main road between two plateaus, about a mile north of Camp Delta, just outside Camp America’s perimeter with the access road chained off. The unacknowledged “camp no” is described as having had no guard towers and being surrounded with concertina wire, with one part of the compound having “the same appearance as the interrogation centers at other prison camps”. At this point, it is unclear whether this facility was run by the CIA or the Joint Special Operations Command. The experts are concerned about the possibility that three Guantanamo detainees (Salah Ahmed al-Salami, Mani Shaman al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal al-Zahrani) might have died during interrogations at this facility, instead of in their own cells, on 9 June 2006.
126. There have also been claims that the United States used two military bases in the Balkans for secret detention: Camp Bondsteel, in Kosovo, and Eagle Base, in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In November 2005, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles told Le Monde that the United States military ran a Guantanamo-type detention centre in Camp Bondsteel. He said he had been “shocked” by conditions at the centre, which he witnessed in 2002, and which resembled “a smaller version of Guantanamo”. In December 2005, the United Nations Ombudsman in Kosovo, Marek Antoni Nowicki, also spoke about Camp Bondsteel, saying “there can be no doubt that for years there has been a prison in the Bondsteel base with no external civilian or judicial oversight. The prison looks like the pictures we have seen of Guantanamo Bay”. Mr. Nowicki said that he had visited Camp Bondsteel in late 2000 and early 2001, when it was the main detention centre for Kosovo Force (KFOR), the NATO-led peace-keeping force, but explained that he had had no access to the base since 2001. The United States base in Tuzla was allegedly used to “process” eight detainees, including Nihad Karsic and Almin Hardaus. Around 25 September 2001, Karsic and Hardaus were arrested at work and taken to Butmir Base, then to Eagle Base, Tuzla, where they allegedly were held in secret detention [PDF]. The men say that they were held in solitary confinement, stripped naked, forcibly kept awake, repeatedly beaten, verbally harassed, deprived of food and photographed.
127. Further developments were witnessed in 2009. In October, three of the experts sent a letter to the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom [United Kingdom response included in A/HRC/13/39/Add.1], Pakistan and the Syrian Arab Republic regarding Mustafa Setmariam Nassar, aged 42, a Spanish citizen of Syrian origin and author of a number of books and other publications on Islam and jihad. They pointed to allegations received that, on an unknown date in October 2005, he had been apprehended in Pakistan by forces of the Pakistani intelligence on suspicion of having been involved in a number of terrorist attacks, including the 11 September 2001 attacks against the United States and the 11 March 2004 bombings in Madrid. He was detained in Pakistan for a certain period of time accused of involvement in both incidents. He was then handed over to authorities of the United States. While no official news of Mr. Nassar’s whereabouts has been received since his apprehension in October 2005, it is alleged that, in November 2005, he was held for some time at a military base facility under United States authority in Diego Garcia. It is now assumed that he is currently being held in secret detention in the Syrian Arab Republic. Official United States documents and web postings, as well as media reports, indicate that the United States authorities had been interested in Mr. Nassar before his disappearance in 2005. In June 2009, in response to a request made through Interpol by a Spanish judge for information relating to Mr. Nassar’s whereabouts, the FBI stated that Mr. Nassar was not in the United States at that time. The FBI did not, however, address whether Mr. Nassar was in United States custody elsewhere or whether it knew where he was then held. Following queries by non-governmental organizations regarding the whereabouts of Mr. Nassar, the CIA responded on 10 June 2009, stating that “the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request” and that, even if the CIA was in a position to answer the request, the records would be classified and protected from disclosure by United States laws. According to Reprieve, Mr. Nassar may have been transferred to Syrian custody. According to the Government of the United Kingdom, it has received assurances from the United States that it has not interrogated any terrorist suspect or terrorism-related detainee in Diego Garcia in any case since 11 September 2001, and that the allegations of a CIA holding facility on the island are false. The Government was therefore confident that the allegations that Mr. Nassar had been held on Diego Garcia were inaccurate.
128. Following the transfer of the 14 high-value detainees from CIA custody to Guantanamo, President Bush, in a delivered speech on 6 September 2006, announced the closure of the CIA’s “high-value detainee programme”. He stressed that, “as more high-ranking terrorists are captured, the need to obtain intelligence from them will remain critical — and having a CIA programme for questioning terrorists will continue to be crucial to getting life-saving information”. Later in 2006 and in 2007 [PDF], he indicated that “the CIA interrogation and detention program” would continue. Subsequent events support this claim as the Department of Defense announced in 2007 and 2008 the transfer of high-value detainees from CIA custody to Guantanamo.
129. On 27 April 2007, the Department of Defense announced that another high-value detainee, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, described as “a high-level member of Al-Qaida”, had been transferred to Guantanamo. On the same day, Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, statedthat the detainee had been transferred to Defense Department custody that week from the CIA although he “would not say where or when al-Iraqi was captured or by whom”. However, a United States intelligence official stated that al-Iraqi “had been captured late last year in an operation that involved many people in more than one country”. Another high-value detainee, Muhammad Rahim, an Afghan described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden, was transferred to Guantanamo on 14 March 2008. In a press release, the Department of Defense stated that, “prior to his arrival at Guantanamo Bay, he was held in CIA custody”. According to reports in Pakistani newspapers, he was captured in Lahore in August 2007.
130. The Government of the United States provided no further details about where the above-mentioned men had been held before their transfer to Guantanamo; however, although it is probable that al-Iraqi was held in another country, in a prison to which the CIA had access (it was reported in March 2009 that he “was captured by a foreign security service in 2006” and then handed over to the CIA), the Department of Defense itself made it clear that the CIA had been holding Muhammad Rahim, indicating that some sort of CIA “black site” was still operating.

Archive for June, 2010

UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq

To complement my recent article, “UN Human Rights Council Discusses Secret Detention Report,” in which I explained how, two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights Council had — after some delays — finally discussed the findings of the “Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Counter-Terrorism,” a detailed, 186-page report issued in February (PDF), I’m posting the section of the report that deals with US secret detention policies since the 9/11 attacks, in the hope that it might reach a new audience — and provide useful research opportunities — as an HTML document.
I do, however, urge everyone to read the whole report, because the introduction and conclusions are important, as are the sections establishing the legal approach to secret detention and its historical context, the section detailing current practices in 25 other countries worldwide, and the annexes, which contain government responses to a questionnaire about secret detention, and a number of case studies.
Given the length of this section of the report (pp. 43-89), I’m publishing it in three parts. The first, published here, provided an introduction, and dealt with “The ‘high-value detainee’ programme and CIA secret detention facilities,” the second, published below, looks at “CIA detention facilities or facilities operated jointly with United States military in battlefield zones,” and the third looks at “Proxy detention sites,” “Complicity in the practice of secret detention” and “Secret detention and the Obama administration.”
Please note that I have inserted hyperlinks where possible. However, the original report contains footnotes, and not all of these provide links to websites. In most cases, I have added the information contained in the footnotes in square brackets, but for full details, please see the original.

Excerpts from the UN “Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Counter-Terrorism,” February 2010

Prepared by Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Shaheen Ali, the vice-chair of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, and Jeremy Sarkin, the chair of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.
B. CIA detention facilities or facilities operated jointly with United States military in battlefield zones
131. Although it is still not possible to identify all 28 of the CIA’s acknowledged high-value detainees, the figures quoted in a memo of the Office of Legal Counsel of 30 May 2005 written by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. Bradbury [PDF] indicate that the other 66 prisoners in the CIA programme were regarded as less significant. Some of them were subsequently handed over to the United States military and transferred to Guantanamo, while others were rendered to the custody of their home countries or other countries. In very few cases were they released.
1. Afghanistan
132. Outside of the specific “high-value detainee” programme, most detainees were held in a variety of prisons in Afghanistan. Three of these are well-known: a secret prison at Bagram airbase, reportedly identified as “the Hangar” [See also the interview with Murat Kurnaz (annex II, case 14)], and two secret prisons near Kabul, known as the “dark prison” and the “salt pit”. During an interview held with the experts, Bisher al-Rawi indicated that, in the dark prison, there were no lights, heating or decoration. His cell was about 5 x 9 feet with a solid steel door and a hatch towards the bottom of it. He only had a bucket to use as a toilet, an old piece of carpet and a rusty steel bar across the width of the cell to hang people from. All the guards wore hoods with small eye holes, and they never spoke. Very loud music was played continuously. He also indicated that he had been subjected to sleep deprivation for up to three days and received threats. Binyam Mohamed provided a similar account to the experts [see annex II, case 18], as did the lawyer of Khaled El-Masri [annex II, case 9] and Suleiman Abdallah [annex II, case 2]. The experts heard allegations about three lesser-known prisons, including one in the Panjshir valley, north of Kabul, and two others identified as Rissat and Rissat 2, but it was not yet possible to verify these allegations. Of the prisoners identified as having been held in secret CIA custody (in addition to the above-mentioned high-value detainees), seven were eventually released and four escaped from Bagram in July 2005, namely Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan; Omar al-Faruq, a Kuwaiti, captured in Bogor, Indonesia, in 2002; Muhammad Jafar Jamal al-Kahtani, a Saudi, reportedly [re-]captured in Khost province, Afghanistan, in November 2006; and Abdullah Hashimi, a Syrian, also known as Abu Abdullah al-Shami. Five prisoners were reportedly returned to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 2006: Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi [see para. 146 below]; Hassan Raba’i and Khaled al-Sharif, both captured in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2003, who had “spent time in a CIA prison in Afghanistan”; Abdallah al-Sadeq, seized in a covert CIA operation in Thailand in the spring of 2004; and Abu Munder al-Saadi, both held briefly before being rendered to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. In May 2009, Human Rights Watch reported that its representatives briefly met Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi on a visit to Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, although he refused to be interviewed. Human Rights Watch interviewed four other men, who claimed that, “before they were sent to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, United States forces had tortured them in detention centers in Afghanistan, and supervised their torture in Pakistan and Thailand”. One of the four was Hassan Raba’i, also known as Mohamed Ahmad Mohamed al-Shoroeiya, who stated that, in mid-2003, in a place he believed was Bagram prison in Afghanistan, “the interpreters who directed the questions to us did it with beatings and insults. They used cold water, ice water. They put us in a tub with cold water. We were forced [to go] for months without clothes. They brought a doctor at the beginning. He put my leg in a plaster. One of the methods of interrogation was to take the plaster off and stand on my leg”.
133. The released detainees are:
  • Laid Saidi, an Algerian seized in the United Republic of Tanzania on 10 May 2003, was handed over to Malawians in plain clothes who were accompanied by two middle-aged Caucasian men wearing jeans and T-shirts. Shortly after the expulsion, a lawyer representing Mr. Saidi’s wife filed an affidavit with a Tanzanian court, saying that immigration documents showed that Mr. Saidi had been deported through the border between Kasumulu, United Republic of Tanzania, and Malawi. He was held for a week in a detention facility in the mountains of Malawi, then rendered to Afghanistan, where he was held in the “dark prison”, the “salt pit” and another unidentified prison. About a year after he was seized, he was flown to Tunisia, where he was detained for another 75 days, before being returned to Algeria, where he was released.
  • Three Yemenis — Salah Nasser Salim Ali Darwish, seized in Indonesia in October 2003, Mohammed al-Asad and Mohammed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah — were held in a number of CIA detention facilities until their return to Yemen in May 2005, where they continued to be held, apparently at the request of the United States authorities. Mr. Bashmilah was detained by Jordanian intelligence agents in October 2003, when he was in Jordan to assist his mother who was having an operation. From 21 to 26 October 2003, Mr. Bashmilah was detained without charge and subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including prolonged beatings and being threatened with electric shocks and the rape of his mother and wife [see Declaration of Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in support of plaintiffs’ opposition to the motion of the United States to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, civil action No. 5:07-cv-02798 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division]. A communication was sent by the special rapporteurs on torture and on human rights while countering terrorism to the Governments of the United States, Indonesia, Yemen and Jordan on the cases of Bashmilah and Salim Ali, who were both detained and tortured in Jordan [E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.1, paras. 93, 126, 525 and 550]. Only the latter country responded, declaring that no record showing that the two men had been arrested for the violations of either the penal, disciplinary or administrative codes, and that they did not have documented files indicating that they posed a security concern, eliminating the possibility of their arrest for what may be described as terrorism [A/HRC/4/33/Add.1, para. 123]. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted its opinion No. 47/2005 (Yemen) on the case on 30 November 2005, declaring their detention to be arbitrary as being devoid of any legal basis. In its reply to the allegations, the Government of Yemen confirmed that Mr. Bashmilah and Mr. Salim Ali had been handed over to Yemen by the United States. According to the Government, they had been held in a security police facility because of their alleged involvement in terrorist activities related to Al-Qaida. The Government added that the competent authorities were still dealing with the case pending receipt of the persons’ files from the United States authorities in order to transfer them to the Prosecutor [A/HRC/4/40/Add.1, para. 15].
  • Khaled El-Masri, a German seized on the border of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 31 December 2003, was held in a hotel room by agents of that State for 23 days, then rendered by the CIA to the “salt pit”. He was released in Albania on 29 May 2004 [Also see Interview with the lawyer of Khaled El-Masri (annex II, case 9)].
  • Khaled al-Maqtari, a Yemeni seized in Iraq in January 2004, was initially held in Abu Ghraib, then transferred to a secret CIA detention facility in Afghanistan. In April 2004, he was moved to a second secret detention facility, possibly in Eastern Europe, where he remained in complete isolation for 28 months, until he was returned to Yemen and released in May 2007.
  • Marwan Jabour, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, was seized in Lahore, Pakistan, on 9 May 2004, and held in a CIA detention facility in Afghanistan for 25 months. He was then transferred to Jordan, where he was held for six weeks, and to Israel, where he was held for another six weeks, before being freed in Gaza.
[Also mentioned:] Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish national residing in Germany, interviewed by the experts for the present study, was arrested in Pakistan in November or December 2001 and initially held by Pakistani police officers and officers of the United States. He was then transferred into the custody of the United States at that country’s airbase in Kandahar, Afghanistan, before being taken to the naval base at Guantanamo Bay on 1 February 2002. He was held secretly until May 2002, and released on 24 August 2006.
134. A total of 23 detainees who ended up in Guantanamo were also held in CIA detention facilities in Afghanistan. They include:
(a) Six men seized in the Islamic Republic of Iran in late 2001:
  • Wassam al-Ourdoni, a Jordanian, who was released from Guantanamo in April 2004. In 2006, he told Reprieve that he had been seized by the Iranian authorities while returning from a religious visit to Pakistan with his wife and newborn child in December 2001, then handed over to the Afghan authorities, who handed him on to the CIA. He said that the Americans “asked me about my relationship with Al-Qaida. I told them I had nothing to do with Al-Qaida. They then put me in jail under circumstances that I can only recall with dread. I lived under unimaginable conditions that cannot be tolerated in a civilized society.” He said that he was first placed in an underground prison for 77 days: “this room was so dark that we couldn’t distinguish nights and days. There was no window, and we didn’t see the sun once during the whole time.” He said that he was then moved to “prison number three”, where the food was so bad that his weight dropped substantially. He was then held in Bagram for 40 days before being flown to Guantanamo [Clive Stafford Smith, “Abandoned to their fate in Guantánamo”, Index on Censorship, 2006].
  • Aminullah Tukhi, an Afghan who was transferred to Afghan custody from Guantanamo in December 2007. He alleged that he had fled from Herat to the Islamic Republic of Iran to escape the Taliban, and was working as a taxi driver when the Iranians began rounding up illegal immigrants towards the end of 2001 [PDF, pp. 71-7].
  • Hussein Almerfedi, a Yemeni, still at Guantanamo. He alleged that he was “kidnapped” in the Islamic Republic of Iran and held for a total of 14 months in three prisons in Afghanistan, “two under Afghani control and one under US control [Bagram]” [PDF, pp. 31-40].
  • Tawfiq al-Bihani, a Yemeni, still at Guantanamo. Allegedly, after deciding to flee Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks, he was “arrested by Iranian Police in Zahedan, Iran for entering the country without a visa” and held “in various prisons in Iran and Afghanistan, for approximately one year in total [PDF, pp. 66-9].
  • Rafiq Alhami, a Tunisian still held at Guantanamo, who alleged that “I was in an Afghan prison but the interrogation was done by Americans. I was there for about a one-year period, transferring from one place to another. I was tortured for about three months in a prison called the Prison of Darkness or the Dark Prison” [PDF, pp. 147-61]. And further: “Back in Afghanistan I would be tortured. I was threatened. I was left out all night in the cold. It was different here. I spent two months with no water, no shoes, in darkness and in the cold. There was darkness and loud music for two months. I was not allowed to pray. I was not allowed to fast during Ramadan. These things are documented. You have them” [PDF, pp. 20-22].
  • Walid al-Qadasi, a Yemeni who was rendered to the “dark prison” and held in other prisons in Afghanistan, together with four other men whose whereabouts are unknown [In addition, Aminullah Tukhi explained that 10 prisoners in total -- six Arabs, two Afghans, an Uzbek and a Tajik -- had been delivered to the Americans. Although six of these men are accounted for above, it is not known what happened to the other four: an Arab, an Afghan, the Uzbek and the Tajik]. An allegation letter was sent in November 2005 by the Special Rapporteur on torture in relation to Walid Muhammad Shahir Muhammad al-Qadasi, a Yemeni citizen, indicating that the following allegations had been received: He was arrested in Iran in late 2001. He was held there for about three months before being handed over to the authorities in Afghanistan who in turn handed him over to the custody of the US. He was held in a prison in Kabul. During US custody, officials cut his clothes with scissors, left him naked and took photos of him before giving him Afghan clothes to wear. They then handcuffed his hands behind his back, blindfolded him and started interrogating him. The apparently Egyptian interrogator, accusing him of belonging to Al-Qaida, threatened him with death. He was put in an underground cell measuring approximately two metres by three metres with very small windows. He shared the cell with ten inmates. They had to sleep in shifts due to lack of space and received food only once a day. He spent three months there without ever leaving the cell. After three months, Walid al-Qadasi was transferred to Bagram, where he was interrogated for one month. His head was shaved, he was blindfolded, made to wear ear muffs and a mouth mask, handcuffed, shackled, loaded on to a plane and flown out to Guantanamo, where he was held in solitary confinement for one more month. In April 2004, after having been detained for two years, he was transferred to Sana’a prison in Yemen. In its response, the Government of the United States reiterated its earlier announcements that no Government agency was allowed to engage in torture and that its actions complied with the non-refoulement principle. Opinion No. 47/2005 of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also concerns Mr. al-Qadasi [See E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.1, paras. 1 and 527, and the response from the Government of the United States (A/HRC/10/44/Add.4, para. 252). See also the report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, opinion No. 47/2005 (A/HRC/4/40/Add.1)].
(b) Two men seized in Georgia in early 2002 and sold to United States forces:
  • Soufian al-Huwari, an Algerian, transferred to Algerian custody from Guantanamo in November 2008; and Zakaria al-Baidany, also known as Omar al-Rammah, a Yemeni, still held at Guantanamo. According to Mr. al-Huwari, both were rendered to the “dark prison”, and were also held in other detention facilities in Afghanistan: “The Americans didn’t capture me. The Mafia captured me. They sold me to the Americans”. He added: “When I was captured, a car came around and people inside were talking Russian and Georgian. I also heard a little Chechnyan. We were delivered to another group who spoke perfect Russian. They sold us to the dogs. The Americans came two days later with a briefcase full of money. They took us to a forest, then a private plane to Kabul, Afghanistan” [PDF, pp. 15-23].
(c) Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi national and British resident, was seized in the Gambia in November 2002, and rendered to the “dark prison” at the beginning of December 2002. He was kept shackled in complete isolation and darkness for two weeks. On or around 22 December 2002, he was transferred to Bagram, and then to Guantanamo on 7 February 2003. He was finally released on 30 March 2007. At Bagram, he was reportedly threatened and subjected to ill-treatment and sleep deprivation for up to three days at a time [Interview with Bisher al-Rawi (annex II, case 4)].
(d) Jamil El-Banna, a Jordanian national and British resident, was also seized in the Gambia in November 2002 and rendered to the “dark prison”, then to Guantanamo. He was released from Guantanamo in December 2007.
(e) Six other detainees were flown to Guantanamo on 20 September 2004 after having spent one to three years in custody:
  • Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani and Mohammed Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani, Pakistani brothers seized in Karachi, who were held in the “salt pit” [Both Laid Saidi and Khaled El-Masri spoke about getting to know the Rabbani brothers in the “salt pit”];
  • Abdulsalam al-Hela, a Yemeni colonel and businessman who was seized in Egypt;
  • Adil al-Jazeeri, an Algerian seized in Pakistan [PDF, pp. 315-34];
  • Sanad al-Kazimi, a Yemeni seized in the United Arab Emirates [PDF. Also on the flight that took these men to Guantanamo were Ali al-Hajj al-Sharqawi, Hassan bin Attash and Binyam Mohamed. See also paras 151 and 159 below];
  • Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman seized in Thailand, who was held in isolation in Bagram for a year.
Mr. al-Kazimi was apprehended in Dubai in January 2003 and held at an undisclosed location in or near Dubai for two months. He was then transferred to a different place about two hours away. He was kept naked for 22 days, at times shackled, and subjected to extreme climatic conditions and simulated drowning. After six months, he was transferred to United States custody, allegedly pursuant to the CIA rendition programme. He was taken to Kabul and held in the “dark prison” for nine months, where he suffered severe physical and psychological torture by unidentified persons. He was then transferred to Bagram airbase, where he was held for a further four months in United States custody. Again, he was allegedly subjected to severe physical and psychological torture by what he believed were the same unidentified persons he had encountered in the “dark prison” [See the report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, opinion No. 3/2009 (United States of America) (A/HRC/13/30/Add.1)].
135. Four others detainees, held in Bagram, are known because lawyers established contact with their families and filed habeas corpus petitions on their behalf:
  • Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian who was seized in Karachi in May 2002.
  • Amin Mohammad al-Bakri, a Yemeni who was seized in Bangkok on 28 December 2002 by agents of the intelligence services of the United States or of Thailand. Throughout 2003, his whereabouts were unknown. The Thai authorities confirmed to Mr. al-Bakri’s relatives that he had entered Thai territory, but denied knowing his whereabouts. In January 2004, Mr. al-Bakri’s relatives received a letter from him through ICRC, informing them that he was being kept in detention at the Bagram airbase. It was reported that Mr. al-Bakri was detained owing to his commercial connections with Mr. Khalifa, a cousin of Osama bin Laden later assassinated in Madagascar [Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, opinion No. 11/2007 (Afghanistan/ United States of America) (A/HRC/7/4/Add.1)].
  • Fadi al-Maqaleh, a Yemeni seized in 2004, who was sent to Abu Ghraib before Bagram.
  • Haji Wazir, an Afghan seized in the United Arab Emirates in late 2002 [PDF].
136. The whereabouts of 12 others are unknown, and the others remain to be identified. It is probable that some of these men have been returned to their home countries, and that others are still held in Bagram. The experts received allegations that the following men were also held: Issa al-Tanzani (Tanzanian), also identified as Soulayman al-Tanzani, captured in Mogadishu; Abu Naseem (Libyan), captured in Peshawar, Pakistan, in early 2003; Abou Hudeifa (Tunisian), captured in Peshawar, Pakistan, at the end of 2002; and Salah Din al-Bakistani, captured in Baghdad. Marwan Jabour also mentioned eight other prisoners. One was Yassir al-Jazeeri (Algerian), seized in Lahore, March 2003 (whom he met), and he heard about seven others: Ayoub al-Libi (Libyan), seized in Peshawar in January 2004; Mohammed (Afghan, born Saudi), seized in Peshawar in May 2004; Abdul Basit (Saudi or Yemeni), seized before June 2004; Adnan (nationality unknown), seized before June 2004; an unidentified Somali (possibly Shoeab as-Somali or Rethwan as-Somali); another unidentified Somali; and Marwan al-Adeni (Yemeni), seized in or around May 2003.
2. Iraq
137. Although the Government of the United States stated that the Geneva Conventions applied to detainees seized during the occupation, an unknown number of persons were deliberately held “off the books” and denied ICRC access. In Abu Ghraib, for example, the abuse scandal that erupted following the publication of photographs in April 2004 involved military personnel who were not only holding supposedly significant detainees delivered by the United States military, but others delivered by the CIA or United States Special Forces units. The existence of “ghost detainees”, who were clearly held incommunicado in secret detention, was later exposed in two United States investigations.
138. In August 2004, a report into detainee detentions in Iraq (chaired by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger) noted that “other Government agencies” had brought a number of “ghost detainees” to detention facilities, including Abu Ghraib, “without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention”, and that, on one occasion, a “handful” of these detainees had been “moved around the facility to hide them from a visiting ICRC team” [PDF].
139. In another report issued in August 2004, Lieutenant General Anthony R. Jones and Major General George R. Fay noted that eight prisoners in Abu Ghraib had been denied access to ICRC delegates by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the Commander of the Coalition Joint Task Force in Iraq: “Detainee-14 was detained in a totally darkened cell measuring about 2 metres long and less than a metre across, devoid of any window, latrine or water tap, or bedding. On the door the delegates noticed the inscription ‘the Gollum’, and a picture of the said character from the film trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’” [PDF].
140. Although the Schlesinger report noted the use of other facilities for “ghost detainees”, the locations of these other prisons, and the numbers of detainees held, have not yet been thoroughly investigated. In June 2004, the then United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that a suspected leader of Ansar al-Aslam had been held for more than seven months without ICRC being notified of his detention; he also stated: “He was not at Abu Ghraib. He is not there now. He has never been there to my knowledge” [also see thisNew York Times report]. According to another report, the prisoner was known as “Triple X” and his secret detention was authorized by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, who issued a classified order in November 2003 “directing military guards to hide [him] from Red Cross inspectors and keep his name off official rosters”. In addition, some locations may well be those in which prisoners died in United States custody. In 2006, Human Rights First published a report identifying 98 deaths in United States custody in Iraq, describing five deaths in CIA custody, including Manadel al-Jamadi, who died in Abu Ghraib, and others at locations including Forward Operating Base Tiger, in Anbar province, a forward operating base near Al-Asad, a base outside Mosul, a temporary holding camp near Nasiriyah and a forward operating base in Tikrit [PDF].

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