The US Department of Defense announced Dec. 16 that two Guantánamo Bay detainees have been transferred to Saudi Arabia. Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani and Hamood Abdulla Hamood had been held since 2002, but neither had been charged with a crime. The two men were recommended for transfer in 2009 after a review by the the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force. According to a statement:
Pakistan's military partially complied with a Supreme Court ruling on Dec. 7 by producing before the court several prisoners out of the hundreds it has been secretly holding without charges. Human rights lawyers and relatives of the prisoners have fought to obtain information about the detainees, some of whom disappeared from jails while others were directly apprehended by security forces. Most have not appeared in court to be officially charged with a crime, and other prisoners were acquitted in court but seized by the military after their release. The court ruled that the army had to produce the prisoners to establish that they were still alive. Fourteen men in the courtroom had scarves over their faces, but the military would not identify how many of those men were prisoners and how many were relatives or other people who could have identified the prisoners. The identities of the 14 men were not revealed.
Lawyers for two Guantánamo detainees, arguing before the European Court of Human Rights on Dec. 3, accused Poland of providing a secret torture site for the Central Intelligence Agency's "extraordinary rendition" program. The case involves 48-year-old Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national facing terror charges in connection with the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and 42-year-old Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian who has never been charged with a crime. According to their lawyers, Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah were victims of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" and waterboarding techniques, as well as mock executions. Crofton Black, a researcher with the human rights organization Reprieve and witness to the closed trial, called the Polish government's investigation into the matter nothing more than a smoke-screen.
The attorney for Belkacem Bensayah and Djamel Ameziane, two Algerian detainees being held in Guantánamo Bay said on Nov. 29 the two will oppose their release back to Algeria, which could take place as early as this week. The two claim they would likely face persecution should they be released back to their home country. The US is bound by its international obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, as well as other international conventions, to prevent returning a national to a state where he or she will likely face persecution or torture. Bensayah has requested he be released to Bosnia, while Ameziane has asked to be released to Canada.
Bahraini authorities on Nov. 23 arrested and charged two former Guantánamo Bay detainees for plotting an attack in Bahrain. Reports indicate authorities caught the former detainees as they attempted to cross into Bahrain from Saudi Arabia on the King Fahad Causeway using forged passports. Bahrain's Interior Ministry has yet to identify the arrestees but noted that both were found to be carrying large amounts of money. The ministry also noted that the arrest comes just days before Bahrain hosts the 32nd meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an organization of six Gulf states seeking to effect "coordination, integration and inter-connection" between member states "in all fields." There is, however, no express indication that the former detainees plotted to attack the GCC meeting.
Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr (AKA Abu Omar) has gone on trial in absentia in Italy on charges of criminal association with the goal of terrorism and aiding illegal emigration with the goal of terrorism, based on an investigation from 2002. Before the investigation could be concluded and charges filed, Nasr was kidnapped from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003, through the US Central Intelligence Agency's "extraordinary rendition" program. Prosecutors requested a prison sentence of six years and eight months for Nasr's alleged role in organizing false documents in order to recruit people for a terror camp. A verdict is expected within the next month.
Doctors and psychologists working in US military detention centers helped to design methods of torture for terrorism suspects, according to an independent report supported by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Open Society Foundations that was released Nov. 4. The report, entitled "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror," examines various charges that the Department of Defense (DoD) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "improperly demanded that US military and intelligence agency health professionals collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in US custody." Such methods, the report asserts, forced doctors to violate ethical and medical principles in order to inflict "torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" on detainees. While acknowledging that some steps toward improvement have been taken by the DoD in recent years, the report urges that further changes need to be made so that medical professionals are not made to undermine their own ethical standards.
The lawyer for five Guantánamo Bay prisoners charged with plotting the September 11 attacks has asked President Barack Obama to declassify the CIA interrogation program that allegedly subjected prisoners to torture. The letter (PDF), made public on Oct. 25, calls upon Obama to make the details of the CIA's rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program public. This program has been linked to certain interrogation techniques that have been said constitute torture. In the letter, the lawyer for the defendants argues: