CIA 'black sites' won't be dismantled;

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Detainee's lawyers hope to inspect for evidence of torture


Published: July 2, 2009 

Lawyers for the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be transferred to US soil for a civilian trial, set for September 2010, asked on Thursday to see the secret CIA prisons where he was allegedly tortured.

The Associated Press reports, "A prosecutor agreed Thursday that the government will not dismantle overseas locations where a former Guantanamo detainee claims he was interrogated by the CIA before he was brought to the United States for trial on terrorism charges."

"The prosecutor, David Raskin, told U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan that the United States would preserve the locations for now even though it does not plan to use at trial any statements Ahmed Ghailani made while he was in the custody of any other government agencies," the AP article continues.

Ghailani's lawyers had argued that "his treatment at the locations will be relevant if the government seeks the death penalty in the case. Raskin said the government has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty," the AP reported.

Judge Kaplan quipped that due to the reversal on dismantling the black sites, he won't "have to look at the classified information no matter how titillating it may be."

At a hearing here federal judge Lewis Kaplan set the date of September 13, 2010 for the trial of Tanzanian national Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was transferred to the United States on June 9.

Ghailani had been held at the Guantanamo Bay prison since September 2006 and is pleading not guilty to charges of taking part in the August 7, 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.

According to his attorneys, Ghailani was handed over to US authorities in August 2004 by Pakistani police and was held prisoner in covert "black sites" operated by the Central Intelligence Agency until his transfer to the US naval base in southeast Cuba.

"The inspection of the CIA Black Sites where the defendant was detained, subjected to interrogation techniques, interrogated and made statements is necessary," argued lawyer Peter Quijano.

Ghailani was subjected to "harsh conditions and harsh interrogation techniques" while detained at the secret prison facilities, he alleged.

The civilian trial means Ghailani is "being held accountable for his alleged role in the bombing of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of 224 people," Attorney General Eric Holder said last month.

Moving the detainee to the United States was a landmark first step for President Barack Obama's politically delicate plan to close the controversial prison and move all remaining prisoners to the US justice system or to their home countries.

Revelations about the "black sites," located overseas sometimes in countries such as Iraq where there is a risk of torture, caused international outrage during former president George W. Bush's tenure.

Rights groups and media reports have alleged the secret prisons were located in Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland, Romania and in former Yugoslavia, as well as in the Horn of Africa and on US Navy ships.

CIA director Leon Panetta said earlier this year said the agency is "no longer" operating secret prisons and plans to shut all remaining sites.

(with afp report)

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This page contains a single entry published on July 2, 2009 3:26 PM.

video: Disbar Torture Lawyers was the previous entry in this blog.

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