Defense

UN expert claims Guantanamo detainee is being tortured

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A United Nations human rights investigator said Wednesday he has information that a Guantanamo Bay detainee is still being tortured despite the United States banning so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

The allegation centers on Ammar al-Baluchi, one of the five men at Guantanamo awaiting trial by military commission on allegations of being a co-conspirator in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“In addition to the long-term effects of past torture, noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention,” Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, said in a statement Wednesday. He did not elaborate on where his information comes from.

The Pentagon denied the allegation.

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“These claims have been investigated on multiple occasions in the past and no credible evidence has been found to substantiate his claims,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Ben Sakrisson said in an email.

Former President Barack Obama banned enhanced interrogation techniques in an executive order in January 2009. He also sought to close Guantanamo but fell short of the goal, ultimately reducing its population to 41 detainees.

President Trump, though, has said he wants to fill Guantanamo with “bad dudes.” He also pledged during the campaign to return to waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse.” He has since said Defense Secretary James Mattis talked him out of that.

On Wednesday, Melzer used the case of al-Baluchi to highlight concerns about U.S. detainees “who had faced prolonged detention in almost complete isolation.”

Citing the 2014 Senate torture report, in which Melzer said al-Baluchi is named 153 times, Melzer said al-Balushi “suffered relentless torture” for 3 1/2 years in CIA “black sites” before being moved to Guantanamo.

More broadly, Melzer slammed the United States for failing to prosecute anyone involved with the post-9/11 era torture program.

“By failing to prosecute the crime of torture in CIA custody, the U.S. is in clear violation of the Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the U.S. and around the world,” he said.

“A society bruised by torture and abuse can heal only when the truth about secret policies and practices is fully disclosed to the public and when full reparation and rehabilitation is granted to victims.”

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