Amnesty International Reveals New CIA 'Disappearance' Case That Began in Abu Ghraib

Former Detainee Was Held More Than 2 Years in "Black Site," Human

Rights Organization Reports

Mar 13, 2008, 01:00 ET from Amnesty International

    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