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Mohammed Al Qahtani's Military Commission Charges Dismissed

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CCR Attorneys Demand He Be Sent to Saudi Arabia

Contact: Jen Nessel, press@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.