Lawyers for al-Qaida suspect file court case

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2011 5:00 PM
Lawyers for al-Qaida suspect file court case

Lawyers for an alleged al-Qaida facilitator on Thursday filed a case against Lithuania at Europe's court of human rights over torture and secret detention at a CIA-run site in the Baltic state.

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian currently being held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, hopes the suit will force Lithuanian authorities to reopen their investigation into secret CIA facilities and victims of torture, according to Interights, a London-based human rights protection group.

Lithuanian prosecutors announced last week they would not reopen a probe despite new information about Zubaydah gathered by non-governmental organizations.

An investigation by Lithuanian lawmakers two years ago found that two CIA prisons were set up in the Baltic state though it did not find evidence that the facilities actually held prisoners. Prosecutors then followed up with their own probe, only to close it in January for lack of evidence.

Rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Reprieve last month provided Lithuanian prosecutors with new information and contacts that they claim is sufficient to reopen the investigation, which they criticized as "superficial."

The organizations attempted to show that Zubaydah was rendered from Morocco to Lithuania on a Boeing 737 in February 2005 _ evidence that was unavailable before.

Interights said in a statement that Zubaydah "was held in a secret detention facility, constructed and equipped specifically for CIA detention, in accordance with prior authorization from high level Lithuanian authorities."

By filing the suit in the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, lawyers hope to win a verdict "recognizing (Zubaydah) as a victim of torture, secret detention and enforced disappearance on Lithuanian soil" and compel Lithuanians to conduct "an independent and thorough investigation."

Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and taken to several CIA black sites overseas until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2006. He was reportedly waterboarded 83 times while in Thailand, according to released records and former intelligence officials.

The Latest Demands From Ford
Cortney O'Brien

The rendition program involved the transfer of U.S. terror suspects from country to country by the CIA _ a policy that human rights advocates say were the agency's way to outsource torture of prisoners to countries where it is permitted.

The U.S. government as a policy refuses to comment on CIA prisons, though there existence has been established by CIA officials.

Zubaydah's claim in the European court will not be the first. In May, the Open Society Justice Initiative, a New York-based human rights group, filed suit on behalf of Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected al-Qaida mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.