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Military panel calls treatment of Guantanamo detainee ‘an affront to American values’


By Ellie Kaufman

A US military panel asked for clemency in the case against a Guantánamo detainee, saying in a letter obtained by CNN that the treatment the detainee has experienced while in US custody over the past almost two decades is “an affront to American values and concept of justice.”

The New York Times was first to report the letter.

Majid Shoukat Khan is one of 39 detainees who still remains at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Khan was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and was held for more than three years at secret CIA prisons known as “black sites.” Khan’s attorneys have said that he suffers “severe physical and psychological trauma from which he is unlikely ever to recover fully” as a result of the torture.

Khan, a native of Pakistan who went to high school in Baltimore, Maryland, was held by the US government without being charged until 2012. He pleaded guilty in 2012, as a part of a deal that required him to testify against other detainees. After being convicted, he did not receive a final sentencing until October 2021, the panel’s letter said.

“Although designated an ‘alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,’ not technically afforded the rights of US citizens, the complete disregard for the foundational concepts upon which the Constitution was founded is an affront to American values and concepts of justice,” the letter said.

The panel members also ask for clemency because of the extent to which Khan was tortured while in US government custody.

“Mr. Khan was subject to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” the letter said. “It is a stain on the moral fiber of America.”

It added: “The treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of US personnel should be a source of shame for the US government.”

Khan last week gave an account of the torture he experienced while in US custody, the first time a detainee who was tortured in the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques program has done so in public. The New York Times first reported the testimony from Khan in front of the military judge and military jury panel at the war court in Guantánamo Bay.

The US accused Khan of helping al Qaeda plan attacks in the United States and elsewhere and conspiring with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind behind the September 11 terrorist attacks. The US also accused Khan of giving $50,000 in al Qaeda funds to a Southeast Asia-based al Qaeda affiliate, which then gave the money to Jemaah Islamiyah to fund the August 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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