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


WASHINGTON — A detainee at Guantánamo Bay has agreed to a deal meant to lead to his launch within the subsequent few years in return for giving up the suitable to query the C.I.A. in court docket about its torture program, United States authorities officers mentioned.

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

Under 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 could possibly be launched to one other nation, assuming one will take him, in accordance to individuals who have seen the phrases or are conversant in its particulars.

In alternate, Mr. Khan is not going to use his sentencing proceedings to invoke a landmark war court decision 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 additional accounting in court docket for its use of what it referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” 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 three years. He was saved 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, in accordance to a 2014 Senate investigation. He was additionally sleep disadvantaged, saved 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 guilty 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 legal professionals reached settlement with the overseer of army commissions for a sentence that will finish someday between early subsequent yr and March 1, 2025.

The settlement itself is below seal, a minimum of till a decide questions Mr. Khan on whether or not he voluntarily entered into it. But a number of folks, talking on the situation of anonymity to describe particulars of the deal, mentioned that it has a sentencing vary of 11 to 14 years, utilized beginning together with his responsible plea in 2012.

The jury within the case will nonetheless be instructed to impose a sentence of 25 to 40 years. But 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 legal professionals declined to remark. The C.I.A. referred questions concerning the deal to the convening authority, the overseer of the court docket at Guantánamo. A spokeswoman for the company mentioned the “C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program ended in 2009.”

The deal averted a looming showdown between prosecutors and the decide in Mr. Khan’s case, Col. Douglas Ok. Watkins of the Army, 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} army commissions decide had the facility 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 mentioned, if true, his descriptions of his remedy amounted to torture and pretrial punishment.

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

Separately, Colonel Watkins awarded him a yr off his eventual sentence as a result of prosecutors failed to disclose sure proof. Colonel Watkins retires from the Army on Aug. 1 and was changed on the case Wednesday by an Air Force 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. Wood, a National Guard colonel who was appointed by the Trump administration to the civilian position of convening authority for army 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 now not deemed a nationwide safety risk from Guantánamo Bay to nations that commit to keep watch over them and, usually, prohibit their journey.

Prosecutors had repeatedly argued that the army decide had no energy to maintain 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 could possibly 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 mentioned there have been questions on whether or not particular witnesses the decide had ordered to testify had actually seen Mr. Khan in C.I.A. detention.

The problem had been simmering however had not come to a head as a result of journey restrictions throughout the coronavirus pandemic introduced most army 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 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 4 different males accused of plotting the Sept. 11 assaults. Defense legal professionals for all 5 defendants say there may be proof that every was systematically tortured within the black websites, they usually desire a decide or jury to hear graphic particulars about it to avert a demise 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. But the identities of the individuals who interrogated Mr. Khan, and wherein nations the place they did it, are nonetheless categorized on the court docket, which operates below guidelines that the federal government says are meant to steadiness state secrets and techniques and honest trial rights.

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

Government officers with data of the deal mentioned 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. Wood 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 either side. When the court docket lastly assembles a sentencing jury at Guantánamo, Mr. Khan will likely be permitted to describe his torture for the panel of army officers that can sentence him — though maybe not in open court docket. He simply can’t name corroborating witnesses.

In alternate, in accordance to a filing on April 22, Mr. Khan’s legal professionals will 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 army fee — undercutting its potential use within the Sept. 11 case.

Mr. Khan has been saved other than the opposite former C.I.A. prisoners at Guantánamo since he pleaded responsible. At that point, he turned a authorities informant, and has been debriefed on demand though prosecutors have but to maintain 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 hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2003, killing 11 folks. Three males at Guantánamo have been charged in that plot, however have yet to be arraigned and haven’t any trial date.

During 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. Rather than retry him final yr, federal prosecutors dropped the case in alternate 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 United States considers itself to be at warfare with Al Qaeda and different terrorist teams.

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



Source link