WASHINGTON, March 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Amnesty International
today exposed in a new report, "From Abu Ghraib to secret CIA custody: The
case of Khaled al-Maqtari," further details of the cruelty and illegality
of the CIA program of secret detentions and enforced disappearances -- a
program re-authorized by President Bush in June 2007.
In an exclusive to Amnesty International, 31-year-old Yemeni national
Khaled Abdu Ahmed Saleh al-Maqtari recounted his ordeal as one of the men
most recently released from secret detention in May 2007. Initially a
"ghost detainee" at Abu Ghraib, he was transferred to CIA custody in
Afghanistan, then held in unknown locations and in complete isolation for
more than two and a half years, without charge or trial or access to any
form of due process. His statements include numerous allegations of torture
and other ill-treatment.
"Khaled al-Maqtari's account is one more shameful chapter in the Bush
administration's war on terror playbook," said Larry Cox, Amnesty
International USA executive director. "Mr. al-Maqtari's descriptions of
being subjected to international crimes including enforced disappearance
and torture are terrible and disgraceful for the United States government.
Equally reprehensible is that none of these allegations are known to have
ever been investigated, nor has anyone been held accountable."
Khaled al-Maqtari was detained when U.S. army soldiers raided a
suspected arms market in Fallujah, Iraq, in January 2004, arresting at
least 60 people. He was transferred to the infamous Abu Ghraib prison as an
unregistered "ghost detainee." He has recounted a regime of beatings, sleep
deprivation, suspension upside-down in painful positions, intimidation by
dogs, induced hypothermia and other forms of torture.
He said that on one occasion, after being beaten by three men in a
small room, he was forced to stand naked on a chair in front of a powerful
air conditioner, holding up a full case of bottled water. He was
periodically drenched in cold water, which made him shiver so hard he could
barely remain standing. Khaled al-Maqtari said he was also suspended by his
feet, with his arms still cuffed behind his back, while a pulley was used
to lower him up and down over a water crate.
After nine days of interrogation in Abu Ghraib, Khaled al-Maqtari was
taken by plane to a secret CIA detention facility in Afghanistan, were he
was held for an additional three months. Flight records obtained by Amnesty
International corroborated that a jet operated by a CIA front company left
Baghdad International Airport nine days after al-Maqtari's arrest, heading
for Khwaja Rawash airport in Kabul.
While in Afghanistan, Khaled al-Maqtari said, he was subjected to
further torture and ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary
confinement, the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, exposure to
extremes of hot and cold, prolonged shackling, sensory deprivation and
disruption with bright lighting and loud music or sound effects constantly
channeled into his cell.
As he told Amnesty International: "It was not really music but noise to
scare you, like from one of those scary movies...I was scared, there were
no dogs but there was noise there. Whenever you try to sleep, they bang on
the door loudly and violently."
Khaled al-Maqtari also told Amnesty International that during the
lapses in the music or sound effects he began to speak to other detainees,
and he figured out there were about 20 others being held in the cells
around him, including Majid Khan, one of the "high value" detainees
transferred from secret CIA custody to military detention in Guantanamo Bay
in September 2006.
In late April 2004, Khaled al-Maqtari and a number of his fellow
detainees were transferred to another CIA "black site," possibly in Eastern
Europe. He was held there for 28 more months, before being sent to Yemen
where he was detained by Yemeni officials until May 2007.
"At no point during his 32-month confinement was Khaled al-Maqtari told
where he was or why," said Anne FitzGerald, senior advisor at Amnesty
International, who interviewed Khaled al-Maqtari. "According to Mr.
al-Maqtari, he did not have access to lawyers, relatives, the International
Committee of the Red Cross or any person other than his interrogators and
the personnel involved in his detention and transfer. This clearly violates
the United States' international obligations. The U.S. government has a
case to answer."
Khaled al-Maqtari is in his native Yemen, living with the effects of
prolonged psychological and physical torture. He has not received any
reparation from U.S. authorities, who have yet to acknowledge his
detention. The abuses that have affected him most, he said, were the years
of endless isolation, his total uncertainty about his future, the constant
monitoring by cameras, and his segregation from the outside world,
particularly the lack of contact with his family.
Amnesty International urges the U.S. authorities to end the use of
secret detention; hold accountable those responsible for abuses carried out
under the program; make known the names, fate and whereabouts of all
individuals held in the context of the so-called "war on terror;" and
charge any detainees who are still held with recognizable criminal offenses
and bring them to trial in independent courts or release them immediately.
The report will also be available online starting March 14 at
SOURCE Amnesty International