Guantánamo Detainee Agrees to Drop Name for C.I.A. Testimony

2021-05-14 14:30:21

WASHINGTON — A detainee at Guantánamo Bay has agreed to a deal supposed to result in his launch within the subsequent few years in return for giving up the appropriate to query the C.I.A. in courtroom about its torture program, United States authorities officers stated.

The deal, negotiated by the Pentagon official who oversees the navy commissions that function a courtroom for some detainees, was reached in latest weeks, and comes as quite a lot of those that have been charged at Guantánamo are searching for to quote their abuse by the hands of the C.I.A. as a part of their protection.

Underneath the deal, the prisoner, Majid Khan, 41, who has pleaded responsible to serving as a courier for Al Qaeda, would full his jail sentence as early as subsequent yr and no later than 2025 after which may very well be launched to a different nation, assuming one will take him, based on individuals who have seen the phrases or are acquainted with its particulars.

In trade, Mr. Khan won’t use his sentencing proceedings to invoke a landmark warfare courtroom resolution that allowed him to name witnesses from the C.I.A.’s secret jail community to testify about his torture.

The association signifies that the C.I.A. for now will keep away from an extra accounting in courtroom for its use of what it referred to as “enhanced interrogation methods” below the Bush administration after the assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Khan, a citizen of Pakistan who went to highschool in Maryland, was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and held incommunicado by the C.I.A. for 3 years. He was stored in darkness for years and in his second yr of detention, the company “infused” a purée of pasta, sauce, nuts, raisins and hummus into his rectum as a result of he went on a starvation strike, based on a 2014 Senate investigation. He was additionally sleep disadvantaged, stored bare and hung by his wrists, and hooded, to the purpose of hallucinations.

Mr. Khan was transferred to Guantánamo Bay in 2006 and noticed a lawyer for the primary time in his fourth yr of detention. In 2012, he pleaded responsible to terrorism-related costs stemming from his work for Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 assaults, and agreed to postpone his sentencing whereas he cooperated with authorities prosecutors.

On April 16, he and his attorneys reached settlement with the overseer of navy commissions for a sentence that might finish someday between early subsequent yr and March 1, 2025.

The settlement itself is below seal, no less than till a decide questions Mr. Khan on whether or not he voluntarily entered into it. However a number of individuals, talking on the situation of anonymity to explain particulars of the deal, stated that it has a sentencing vary of 11 to 14 years, utilized beginning along with his responsible plea in 2012.

The jury within the case will nonetheless be instructed to impose a sentence of 25 to 40 years. However below the deal, the decide will then scale back the sentence to the agreed 11 to 14 years, with the exact size relying on quite a lot of elements together with the federal government’s evaluation of his cooperation with U.S. authorities.

Mr. Khan’s attorneys declined to remark. The C.I.A. referred questions concerning the deal to the convening authority, the overseer of the courtroom at Guantánamo. A spokeswoman for the company stated the “C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program led to 2009.”

The deal averted a looming showdown between prosecutors and the decide in Mr. Khan’s case, Col. Douglas Ok. Watkins of the Military, over the decide’s order to take C.I.A. witnesses to Guantánamo Bay to testify about Mr. Khan’s torture throughout his 2003-06 detention within the abroad C.I.A. jail system, often called black websites.

Colonel Watkins dominated final yr {that a} navy commissions decide had the ability to award Mr. Khan day off his sentence for “pretrial punishment.” He ordered a fact-finding listening to at Guantánamo on Mr. Khan’s claims and stated, if true, his descriptions of his therapy amounted to torture and pretrial punishment.

Underneath the settlement, Mr. Khan offers up the fact-finding listening to.

Individually, Colonel Watkins awarded him a yr off his eventual sentence as a result of prosecutors did not disclose sure proof. Colonel Watkins retires from the Military on Aug. 1 and was changed on the case Wednesday by an Air Power decide, Col. Mark W. Milam.

The settlement is the primary involving a Guantánamo detainee that the Biden administration has reached since taking workplace. It was made by Jeffrey D. Wooden, a Nationwide Guard colonel who was appointed by the Trump administration to the civilian function of convening authority for navy commissions.

The timetable for Mr. Khan’s launch offers the Biden administration time to restart negotiations with different governments, suspended throughout the Trump administration, to ship detainees not deemed a nationwide safety menace from Guantánamo Bay to international locations that decide to control them and, sometimes, limit their journey.

Prosecutors had repeatedly argued that the navy decide had no energy to carry a listening to on a Guantánamo prisoner’s mistreatment after which scale back a sentence. They misplaced, although some authorities officers proceed to argue that the ruling may very well be reversed.

The prosecutors then resisted having witnesses testify at Guantánamo Bay, even anonymously, concerning the torture of Mr. Khan. A U.S. authorities official stated there have been questions on whether or not particular witnesses the decide had ordered to testify had really seen Mr. Khan in C.I.A. detention.

The difficulty had been simmering however had not come to a head as a result of journey restrictions throughout the coronavirus pandemic introduced most navy fee hearings to a standstill for the final yr.

The query of whether or not Mr. Khan may obtain a discount in his sentence due to his torture was additionally a possible mannequin for the protection within the capital conspiracy case towards Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 4 different males accused of plotting the Sept. 11 assaults. Protection attorneys for all 5 defendants say there’s proof that every was systematically tortured within the black websites, and so they desire a decide or jury to listen to graphic particulars about it to avert a loss of life sentence when the long-delayed case finally proceeds.

Two contract psychologists who devised the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, have been publicly recognized. However the identities of the individuals who interrogated Mr. Khan, and during which international locations the place they did it, are nonetheless labeled on the courtroom, which operates below guidelines that the federal government says are supposed to steadiness state secrets and techniques and truthful trial rights.

Prosecutors argued that nameless, in-person testimony about Mr. Khan’s therapy, whether or not in a labeled session or in public, risked exposing covert U.S. authorities staff, and stated it was not potential to take them to Guantánamo Bay. That left the potential for the decide ordering their appearances, prosecutors refusing to convey them and as a treatment, the decide decreasing Mr. Khan’s sentence.

Authorities officers with data of the deal stated that the C.I.A. wished to keep away from having its officers uncovered, and didn’t need them to testify at Guantánamo, however that Mr. Wooden in his capability as convening authority selected his personal to defuse the dispute over the witnesses.

Descriptions of the settlement recommend there are victories for each side. When the courtroom lastly assembles a sentencing jury at Guantánamo, Mr. Khan will likely be permitted to explain his torture for the panel of navy officers that can sentence him — though maybe not in open courtroom. He simply can’t name corroborating witnesses.

In trade, based on a submitting on April 22, Mr. Khan’s attorneys may even ask the decide after sentencing to void the June 2020 ruling that discovered credit score for pretrial punishment is an obtainable treatment at a navy fee — undercutting its potential use within the Sept. 11 case.

Mr. Khan has been stored aside from the opposite former C.I.A. prisoners at Guantánamo since he pleaded responsible. At the moment, he turned a authorities informant, and has been debriefed on demand though prosecutors have but to carry a trial the place his testimony can be wanted.

In pleading responsible he admitted to delivering $50,000 from Mr. Mohammed to militants in Indonesia that was used to finance the bombing of a Marriott lodge in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2003, killing 11 individuals. Three males at Guantánamo have been charged in that plot, however have but to be arraigned and haven’t any trial date.

Through the Trump administration, Mr. Khan was additionally listed as a authorities witness in a deliberate federal prosecution of one other Pakistani man, Uzair Paracha. Mr. Paracha was convicted in 2005 in New York of federal terrorism-related offenses, however the conviction was overturned. Reasonably than retry him final yr, federal prosecutors dropped the case in trade for Mr. Paracha voluntarily giving up his U.S. residency and returning to Pakistan, after 17 years of incarceration.

For Mr. Khan, the trail out of Guantánamo could also be extra advanced. Successive U.S. administrations have argued {that a} convicted warfare prison who completes his sentence should be held at Guantánamo within the quasi-prisoner of warfare standing of a detainee, so long as the US considers itself to be at warfare with Al Qaeda and different terrorist teams.

Additionally, it’s unclear the place Mr. Khan would go. He was born in Saudi Arabia, lived as a baby in Pakistan however went to highschool in suburban Baltimore and had asylum in the US earlier than he returned to Pakistan after the Sept. 11 assaults. By regulation, he can’t be despatched to the US.

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