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Supreme Courtroom asks U.S. if Guantanamo inmate can testify on torture in state secrets and techniques case

A view of the U.S. Supreme Courtroom on June 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Pictures

Supreme Courtroom justices requested Wednesday if the U.S. would permit a Guantanamo Bay detainee to testify about his alleged torture and confinement by the CIA, a transfer that might sidestep a dispute over the federal government’s assertion of the “state secrets and techniques privilege.”

The query arose on the finish of oral arguments concerning the authorities’s effort to cease two ex-CIA contractors from testifying concerning the therapy of that detainee, Abu Zubaydah, at an alleged “black website” in Poland.

This undated file photograph supplied by U.S. Central Command, reveals Abu Zubaydah, date and site unknown. The Supreme Courtroom is listening to arguments concerning the authorities’s capacity to maintain what it says are state secrets and techniques from a person tortured by the CIA following 9/11 and now held on the Guantanamo Bay detention heart. On the heart of the case being heard Wednesday is whether or not Abu Zubaydah can get info associated to his detention.

US Central Command | AP

“Why not make the witness obtainable?” Justice Neil Gorsuch requested Justice Division legal professional Brian Fletcher. “What’s the authorities’s objection to the witness testifying to his personal therapy and never requiring any admission from the federal government of any sort?”

Fletcher stated that that query had not been resolved as a result of the request had not been made by Zubaydah’s legal professionals, who say Zubaydah has not been allowed to talk.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer pressed additional.

“We wish a transparent reply,” Sotomayor stated.

“I do not perceive why he is nonetheless there after 14 years,” Breyer added.

Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and has been imprisoned ever since, being held by the CIA in detention services abroad with out fees.

The U.S. believed him to be a member of al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults. In a petition to the Supreme Courtroom, the federal government described Zubaydah as an “affiliate and longtime terrorist ally of Osama bin Laden” — a declare Zubaydah’s legal professionals known as “categorically false.”

Zubaydah in 2017 requested a U.S. district court docket to authorize subpoenas to query ex-CIA contractors James Mitchell and John Jessen a few website in Poland the place Zubaydah alleges he was held and tortured. Their testimony could be a part of an investigation being carried out by Polish authorities.

The federal government, asserting the state secrets and techniques privilege, moved to quash these subpoenas of their entirety. The district court docket granted the federal government’s request, however an appeals court docket disagreed, discovering that not all the requested info was a state secret.

The federal government appealed that ruling to the Supreme Courtroom, arguing that the decrease court docket’s resolution “is severely flawed and poses important dangers to the nationwide safety.”

In a brief to the Supreme Courtroom, Zubaydah’s legal professionals stated the U.S. has forbidden him from providing his personal testimony within the Polish investigation.

America flag flies within Joint Process Power Guantanamo Camp VI on the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 22, 2016.

Lucas Jackson | Reuters

Fletcher informed the court docket Wednesday that Zubaydah isn’t being held “incommunicado” however is topic to the identical restrictions as different Guantanamo detainees.

Zubaydah’s legal professionals allege the CIA subjected him to a “relentless regime” of torture spanning a number of years and a number of international locations. Their petition to the excessive court docket describes him being waterboarded 83 instances in a single month, suspended bare from hooks for hours at a time and being crammed right into a small field “that might neatly match beneath a chair,” amongst different strategies.

The federal government acknowledges that Zubaydah’s therapy by the CIA “included the usage of enhanced interrogation strategies.”

The Supreme Courtroom is ready to listen to arguments subsequent month in one other case involving questions concerning the state secrets and techniques privilege. That case, FBI v. Fazaga, includes claims that the FBI had an informant infiltrate a California mosque to observe targets on the idea of their faith. Oral arguments will happen Nov. 8.


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