[Ppnews] Mohammed Al Qahtani's Military Commission Charges Dismissed

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 13 20:24:52 EDT 2008



Mohammed Al Qahtani's Military Commission Charges Dismissed

http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/mohammed-al-qahtani%2526%2523039%3Bs-military-commission-charges-dismissed
CCR Attorneys Demand He Be Sent to Saudi Arabia

Contact: Jen Nessel, press at ccrjustice.org

May 13, 2008, New York – Center for 
Constitutional Rights attorneys learned last 
night that Military Commission charges against 
their client, Mohammed al Qahtani, were dropped. 
He had originally been charged as one of six in a 
9/11 conspiracy where the government was seeking the death penalty.

Mr. al Qahtani, who has been at Guantánamo for 
almost six years, was subject to the ‘First 
Special Interrogation Plan,’ which consisted of a 
regime of ‘aggressive interrogation methods’ that 
constitute torture personally approved by former 
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. These 
techniques were revealed in a leaked government interrogation log.

The Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:

"The government is finally admitting what we have 
been saying all along, that the government’s 
claims against our client were based on 
unreliable evidence obtained through torture at 
Guantanamo. Using torture to string together a 
web of so-called evidence is illegal, immoral and 
cannot be the basis for a fair trial.

Mr. al Qahtani never made a single statement that 
was not extracted through torture or the threat 
of torture. The unconscionable techniques used on 
him are well-documented and were authorized 
directly by the White House. His torture log is a 
shameful window onto the depravity of this 
administration and the depths to which they have been willing to sink.

Mr. al Qahtani should be returned to the custody 
of the Saudi government, where they have a system 
in place to maintain custody of any former 
Guantanamo detainee who presents a danger, as 
well as a strong rehabilitation program supervising those that are released.

The Military Commissions are sham political show 
trials designed to do nothing but obtain 
convictions for the government. Col. Moe Davis 
testified to that effect in the Hamdan 
proceedings, and the presiding judge removed the 
legal advisor to the Commissions, Brigadier 
General Hartmann, just this week for undue 
political influence. The Military Commissions 
allow secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and 
evidence obtained through torture, which violates 
every international and domestic legal principle 
of due process and fair trials. They are designed 
to hide the criminal conduct of U.S. personnel 
and to obtain nothing but convictions.

The White House will face the same legal and 
moral questions with any trial under this system.

We call on the government to send Mr. al Qahtani 
to Saudi Arabia, where he belongs, and end the 
failed experiment that is Guantanamo."

The torture techniques approved by the White 
House and Donald Rumsfeld for use on Mr. al Qahtani include
• Beatings
• Severe sleep deprivation combined with 20-hour 
interrogations for months at a time
• Threats of rendition to other countries that torture
• Explicit threats made against his family, 
including female members of his family
• Strip searches, body searches and forced 
nudity, at times in the presence of female personnel
• Sexual humiliation
• Humiliation by forcing him to bark like a dog, 
dance with a mask on his face, and pick up piles 
of trash with his hands cuffed while he was called “a pig”
• Denial of the right to practice his religion, 
including prohibiting him from praying for prolonged times and during Ramadan
• Threats to desecrate the Koran in front of him
• Attacks by dogs
• Forcible administration of frequent IVs by 
medical personnel during interrogation
• Being placed in acute stress positions for hours at a time
• Being placed in tight restraints repeatedly for 
many months or days and nights
• Exposure to low temperatures for extended periods of time
• Exposure to loud music for prolonged times
• At least 160 days of severe isolation

CCR has been representing Mohammed al Qahtani 
since 2005 and has led the legal battle over 
Guantanamo for the last six years – sending the 
first ever habeas attorney to the base and 
sending the first attorney to meet with a former 
CIA “ghost detainee.” CCR has been responsible 
for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro 
bono lawyers across the country in order to 
represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that 
nearly all have the option of legal 
representation. CCR represented the detainees 
with co-counsel in the most recent argument 
before the Supreme Court on December 5, 2007.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated 
to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed 
by the United States Constitution and the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 
1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights 
movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal 
and educational organization committed to the 
creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated 
to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed 
by the United States Constitution and the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 
1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights 
movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal 
and educational organization committed to the 
creative use of law as a positive force for social change.


*********************************************************************************

Why has the US dropped 9/11 charges?

By Adam Brookes
BBC News, Washington

The American government has given no reason why 
charges against the man it has alleged was the 
"20th hijacker" in the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US have been dropped.

Mohammad al-Qahtani has been held at Guantanamo 
Bay since 2002, following his detention in Afghanistan.

In February, he was charged with conspiracy, 
terrorism, and murder in violation of the laws of war, among other offences.

The US alleges he attempted to come to the United 
States in order to take part in the 9/11 attacks, 
but was stopped at the airport on his arrival.

An immigration officer suspected he intended to 
stay in the US illegally, and refused him entry.

The charges were dropped "without prejudice" - 
which means they could be brought again at a later date.

Five other men were charged alongside Mr Qahtani.

They include Khaled Sheikh Mohammed - the man 
accused of organising the 9/11 attacks.

Their trials before military commissions - the 
special military courts in Guantanamo Bay - are slated to go ahead.

Torture claims

As well as his military lawyer, Mr Qahtani is 
represented by a civilian lawyer from the Center 
for Constitutional Rights - a New York-based legal rights organisation.

The CCR said in a statement it believed the 
charges against him had been dropped because Mr Qahtani had been tortured.

"The government's claims against our client were 
based on unreliable evidence obtained through torture at Guantanamo," it said.

"Using torture to string together a web of 
so-called evidence is illegal, immoral and cannot 
be the basis for a fair trial."

Published reports in 2006 described Mr Qahtani's interrogation.

The reports - based on leaks from the Pentagon - 
said he had been subjected to stress positions, 
sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, 
humiliation and other highly coercive practices.

Some lawyers believe military officers did not 
want to face a discussion of these interrogation 
techniques in court, nor to have their case 
collapse publicly because the evidence obtained 
using such techniques might be ruled inadmissible.

Controversial commissions

However, proceedings against the five other 
suspects, including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, appear to be going ahead.

It has been frequently reported, and is widely 
believed by civilian and military lawyers, that 
similar interrogation techniques were used in these cases, too.

So how are they able to go ahead, if the case against Mr Qahtani is dropped?

Lawyers suggest that in those cases there may be 
other evidence - obtained independently, and not 
tainted with the threat of inadmissibility.

One lawyer who is not directly involved with the 
Guantanamo detainees called the failure of the 
case against Mr Qahtani a "huge setback" for the 
US government and the entire legal process at Guantanamo Bay.

"Yet again, we don't know what is really 
happening in this system," he said. "Transparency is zero."

The military commissions process remains extremely controversial.

A case before the Supreme Court - Boumediene vs 
Bush - challenges its very legality under the 
constitution. The Court is expected to rule in the next two months.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7399644.stm

Published: 2008/05/13 20:59:26 GMT




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