Tortured Guantánamo Detainee Is Freed in Belize

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Belize City — The small Central American country known for its barrier reefs and ecotourism has adopted a former terrorist turned informant for the US government. His story of torture by the CIA moved a military jury in Guantanamo Bay, prompting the Pentagon to grant him clemency.

US military liberation Majid Shukat clan chief42, under the control of the authorities of Belize After a two hour flight from the US Naval Base in Cuba.

It was the first resettlement of detainees since President Barack Obama’s administration and the culmination of months of covert diplomacy. All other prisoners released in the meantime were repatriated. But Khan had nowhere to go after serving his sentence almost a year ago.

“I’ve been given a second chance in life and I’m going to make the most of it.”

“I will continue to ask forgiveness from God and those I have hurt,” he said.

The status of his resettlement was not immediately known. But he was expected to join him with his wife and teenage daughter, who was born after he was arrested in Pakistan in 2003.

Khan attended high school in Maryland, left his immigrant family for Al-Qaeda after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and left for his hometown of Pakistan to join Guantanamo Bay. was well known as a prisoner of

From 2003 to 2006, he was sequestered in a secret CIA prison overseas and subjected to dungeon-like conditions involving beatings, nudity, brutal force-feeding, waterboarding, and other physical and sexual abuse. rice field.

In 2012, he agreed to testify against other prisoners. pleaded guilty to providing $50,000 which was used to fund the attacks.

His release in Belize was notable for several reasons.

He called the Bush administration’s secret torture program “enhanced interrogation.

Abominable 2014 Senate investigation Part of the secret plot revealed what the CIA did when Mr. Khan went on hunger strike in the second year of his detention. Khan’s captors “injected” pasta, sauces, nuts, raisins and hummus purees into his rectum. His lawyer called it rape.

In the 2021 ruling, Khan expressed remorse for his crimes and told his story A U.S. military jury in Guantánamo followed War Court guidelines and retroactively sentenced him to 26 years in prison.

“This abuse had no practical value from an intelligence standpoint or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests.” they said in a handwritten letter from the jury room. Instead, it’s a blemish on America’s moral fabric. Khan’s treatment at the hands of US personnel should be a shame to the US government. ”

A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Belize government accepted Khan as an act of humanity and helped him make a fresh start. Details of the resettlement agreement have not been released, but officials describe an arrangement similar to that of the host country, effectively granting asylum to detainees.

Things to consider before using anonymous sources. Do the sources know the information? What motivates them to tell us? Have they proven trustworthy in the past? Can the information be corroborated? Even if these questions are resolved, The Times will use anonymous sources as a last resort. The reporter and at least one of her editors know the identity of the source.

The transfer agreement was signed with Belize government officials Ian C. MossAn attorney who helped defend Mr. Khan at Guantanamo Bay during the Trump administration and was later appointed as the State Department’s deputy counter-terrorism coordinator, the official said.

“This resettlement required a great deal of diplomatic creativity and perseverance,” said Lee S. Woloski, who served as special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Prison in the Obama administration. Mr. Moss was his chief of staff.

Belize’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Courtenay, visited the prison on October 14 to meet Mr Khan and assess his suitability for life in an English-speaking country of about 400,000 citizens. .

Courtenay told reporters on Thursday: Khan did not come to Belize as a detainee. He has finished his prison term and is a free man. He is resettling for humanitarian reasons, just as our country has done for thousands of immigrants and refugees over the years. ”

Courtenay said the U.S. provided funds to buy Khan a house and provide him with a car, a laptop and a phone.

But Mr Khan had agreed to monitor his activities and meet with police, adding that he understood that he would not be able to travel freely abroad for some time.

Tina Caidanow, the Biden administration’s senior representative for Guantánamo affairs, and US Ambassador Michelle Kwan joined the foreign ministers to speak to news media. Kaidanow tried to reassure local reporters that the former prisoners were not posing any threat. “He is very happy to be here. He is very grateful.”

Although Khan’s sentence has ended, the case has attracted the attention of international law and human rights groups because he spent nearly a year in the same razor-wired detention camp in Guantánamo. His lawyers have asked federal court in a habeas corpus petition to order him released to base until a country can be found for him.

Mr. Moss Court submission Diplomats approached 11 countries this summer urgent actionTo find Mr. Khan’s whereabouts.

J. Wells Dixon of the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement that he was “thrilled that Majid was released.” He has represented Khan in federal and military courts since arriving in Guantanamo in 2006.

Katya Jestin, a Jenner & Block attorney who joined the case pro bono in 2009, called his release “a historic victory for human rights and the rule of law, but one that has taken too long to reach.” too much,” he said.

With this week’s transfers, the Pentagon now holds 34 inmates at the Guantanamo Bay Detention FacilityEleven of them have been indicted by military commissions, six of whom are awaiting death sentences. 3 othersall former CIA prisoners are being held indefinitely in custody in the War on Terror — not charged with a crime, but considered too dangerous to be released.

the other 20 menhalf of whom are Yemeni, have been approved for security deals that satisfy the Secretary of Defense, deals that require much more complicated diplomacy, and sometimes transfers to other countries with unknown enticements by the United States.

The Biden administration repatriated five released prisoners and the Trump administration sent one man to serve his sentence in his native Saudi Arabia. But the final resettlement occurred on the last day of the Obama administration, with Oman taking in his eight Yemeni and his two Afghan prisoners and failing to safely return to his home country.

Belize is the closest country to Guantanamo that has taken prisoners. Obama-era envoys arranged settlements in Bermuda, El Salvador, and Uruguay. But most were in Europe and the Middle East, and some in Africa.

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