New evidence of CIA secret detention – Europe has a case to answer

New evidence of CIA secret detention – Europe has a case to answer

Brussels (14 March) – As EU leaders meet in Brussels today, Amnesty International releases a report with new disturbing evidence suggesting CIA abuse in Europe. In a first hand account, Khaled al-Maqtari describes how he was persistently tortured during his nearly 3 years in US custody, first in Abu Ghraib and later at CIA “black sites” in Afghanistan and possibly in Eastern Europe.

“The human cost of secret detention could not be more vividly illustrated”, said Natalia Alonso, Acting Director of Amnesty International’s EU office, “that EU Member States still fail to seriously investigate their alleged involvement in such events is incomprehensible and a mockery of their human rights obligations”, she added.

After enduring several days of torture in Abu Ghraib, Khaled al-Maqtari was transported to secret detention facilities in a procedure also described to Amnesty International by other detainees: a removal team, dressed completely in black, with black gloves and facemasks, put him in a diaper, socks, short trousers and a shirt without buttons. They then covered his eyes and stuffed cotton into his ears before hooding him and attaching noise-reducing headphones. In both CIA “black sites” he was put in a small cell and kept in isolation with constant camera surveillance. He was handcuffed and shackled for prolonged periods, subject to extremes of hot and cold and continuously exposed to extremely loud music and strong lighting. He endured stress positions, sleep deprivation, forced nudity and withdrawal of medication. He described hearing other detainees screaming and crying. At no point was he told why he was detained and no criminal charges were ever brought against him. He had no contact with his family which was also unaware of his location.

As Khaled al-Maqtari spoke to Amnesty International, his health remained very fragile. Two years after release from US custody, he is still too sick to work, unable to pay for medical treatment and afraid to travel abroad. He will continue to bear the stigma of having been detained by the US. He received no reparation for either the torture and other ill-treatment he endured or the physical and psychological consequences he still suffers.

US authorities have so far escaped any kind of accountability for the cruelty and illegality of the human rights abuses committed under their secret detention programme in the name of the war on terror. EU Member States have neither called for the immediate end to the US program nor seriously investigated the allegations of their own complicity in this program. Amnesty International, therefore, urges the EU and Member States to:

  •  seek clarification from the US on all issues set out in Amnesty International’s report, including where Khaled al-Maqtari was held for the full length of his detention;
  • build on the recent UK example to request detailed information from the US on all alleged CIA rendition flights that went through Europe and fully investigate all allegations of European involvement in the US program;
  • call on the US to end the CIA secret detention and rendition programme, fully investigate any abuse committed under the program, hold those responsible to account and ensure reparations to the victims.

Amnesty International report, “A case to answer – from Abu Ghraib to secret CIA custody: the case of Khaled al-Maqtari”, is available in English. Click this Download PDF attachement