December 10, 2014, New York, NY. The International Justice Network (IJN) announced today that the Senate Intelligence Committee's executive summary of the CIA Torture Report confirms that IJN client Redha al-Najar was indeed tortured while in CIA custody. Mr. al-Najar is one of the 39 detainees against whom the CIA is confirmed to have used "enhanced interrogation techniques," which constitute torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. In the midst of these revelations, IJN today learned that the US government transferred Mr. al-Najar to the custody of the Afghan government yesterday.
The revelations about the CIA's torture of Mr. al-Najar are shocking. According to the Senate report, Mr. al-Najar was subjected to isolation in total darkness, loud music playing 24 hours a day, cold temperatures, sleep deprivation, hooding, and shackling. The Senate report emphasizes that while the CIA represented to the Office of Legal Counsel that detainees' wrists were not handcuffed to a bar above their head for longer than two hours at a time, Mr. al-Najar underwent this brutal form of torture for 22 hours a day.
Almost two months after CIA Headquarters permitted untrained interrogators to use these "enhanced interrogation techniques" on Mr. al-Najar, interrogators described him as "clearly a broken man" who was "on the verge of a complete breakdown." These same interrogators asserted that Mr. al-Najar was willing to do whatever the CIA asked.
The Senate report confirms that, despite the torture he endured, Mr. al-Najar was "never suspected of having information on, or a role in, terrorist plotting." Furthermore, the report points to the case of Mr. al-Najar to underscore the flagrant inaccuracies in CIA documents that purport to show that its "enhanced interrogation techniques" elicited useful information from detainees.
"The Senate report confirms that the CIA tortured our client to get information he simply didn't have," said Tina Foster, Executive Director of IJN. "The program not only sanctioned vicious human rights abuses that are illegal under US and international law, but produced very little intelligence. This report provides only a glimpse into the horror that Redha al-Najar endured for the nearly 700 days he was in CIA custody. "
After his detention at CIA black sites, Mr. al-Najar was transferred to Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, where he was held for twelve years without charge or the right to challenge his detention. In August, IJN and co-counsel, attorney Sylvia Royce, filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court seeking review of Redha's case. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Human Rights First both submitted legal briefs in support of Mr. al-Najar's case, arguing that his allegations of torture and coercive interrogations warrant review by the highest court in the land.
"I wish we could say that we are surprised at these revelations, but after learning what the government has done to other detainees in the so-called War on Terror, we are not," said attorney Sylvia Royce. "Our government's treatment of detainees has been disgraceful."
For years, IJN has argued that the US government purposefully kept Mr. al-Najar at Bagram in order to avoid judicial review of his detention. The Senate report confirms that the US government did indeed transfer detainees from one facility to another in order to avoid scrutiny by US courts. The U.S. government is due to respond to Mr. al-Najar's petition on December 15.