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New US torture lawsuit targets CIA ‘black sites’

By June 7, 2017 No Comments

Attorneys for Guantanamo’s ‘forever prisoner’ Abu Zubaydah have filed a new US federal lawsuit against the architects of the CIA torture program as part of an official investigation into US-led torture in Poland.

The lawsuit, first filed on May 22, seeks to depose military psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen in Washington state, and to compel them to turn over information relating to the torture of Mr Zubaydah at a CIA ‘black site’ in Poland.

The suit employs an American discovery law used by businesses to subpoena information needed for a proceeding overseas. The law can allow the American courts to assist foreign governments to prosecute torturers, even if the US executive branch refuses to do so. In this case, Poland’s government is seeking to hold itself accountable for US-led abuses on Polish soil, with an official inquiry into the hosting of CIA ‘black sites’ used to torture prisoners.

Separately, German prosecutors are weighing a request from the European Centre for Constitutional Rights to issue an arrest warrant for Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the CIA. Ms Haspel oversaw a notoriously brutal CIA ‘black site’ in Thailand, where Mr Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in a month and used as a ‘guinea pig’ for Mitchell and Jessen’s torture techniques. She subsequently helped destroy video evidence of the abuse.

Professor Joseph Margulies, Mr Zubaydah’s attorney in the Polish proceedings, said: “Once again, it will be up to the judiciary to protect the rule of law, rescuing Abu Zubaydah from invisibility, and the executive branch from itself.”

Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, Reprieve US attorney specializing in abuses in counter-terrorism, said: “How absurd that our only judicial recourse against American torturers is to help foreign governments in their inquiries. For Abu Zubaydah, still held without charge by the US after unimaginable suffering, Europe may provide the only justice he ever sees.”


Notes to Editors

1) The documents in the US federal lawsuit is here:

2) Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] / +1 917 855 8064. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] / +44 (0) 207 553 8140.

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