Court Orders Government Not to Destroy Torture Evidence


Jen Nessel, [email protected]

December 12, 2007, Washington, DC – A federal appeals court has issued an interim order requiring the government to take “all measures necessary to preserve” evidence relating to Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan, including evidence of his torture by the CIA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued the order, by its own initiative, in connection with a motion filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights asking for an order requiring the government to preserve torture evidence.

The order comes just days after the CIA revealed it destroyed hundreds of hours of videotaped interrogations in 2005.

“Majid Khan was subjected by U.S. personnel to a ruthless program of state-sanctioned torture,”
said CCR Attorney Wells Dixon. “The order is significant because the D.C. Circuit would have no reason to issue interim relief, by its own initiative, if it were absolutely certain that no evidence of his torture would be lost or destroyed before our preservation motion is fully briefed and decided on the merits.”

Dixon and fellow CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez brought the motion on behalf of their client, former Baltimore resident Majid Khan. Khan was taken from Pakistan in 2003, and spent three and half years in secret CIA prisons before “reappearing” at Guantanamo in September 2006. Khan’s lawyers also filed a motion asking the court to declare that the interrogation methods applied to Khan constitute torture. That motion remains classified.

The 23-page court filing declassified last week in heavily redacted form is available in a previous CCR press release.

This all comes just days after the Supreme Court heard arguments in a landmark case on detainee rights. In the case – aimed at reining in executive power and restoring constitutional rights – CCR attorneys and co-counsel are asking the justices to rule that Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to habeas corpus – the right to appear before an independent court to know why they are being held and what the charges are against them.

Wells Dixon works on the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at CCR. In addition to representing Majid Khan, Dixon represents Uighur prisoners cleared for release in 2003 and a U.N.-mandate refugee from Somalia. Dixon is a former law clerk in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut and previously worked at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, where he specialized in white collar criminal defense and securities litigation. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Colorado School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

December 16, 2009