At a Glance
Khan initially challenged the legality of his detention in Khan v. Obama and Khan v. Gates, which were dismissed or withdrawn without merits rulings. In February 2012, Khan was charged by military commission with certain offenses under the Military Commissions Act of 2009. In United States v. Khan, he pled guilty and was sentenced nearly a decade later in October 2021. He completed his sentence in March 2022, and filed a new habeas case in June 2022, Khan v. Biden, challenging his continued imprisonment beyond the conclusion of his sentence. The government’s response to the merits of the case are due by February 6, 2023.
Jenner & Block LLP; Military Commissions Defense Organization (U.S. v. Khan)
The Center for Constitutional Rights has represented Majid Khan in four cases: Khan v. Obama, a habeas corpus petition filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Khan v. Gates, a petition for review under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; United States v. Khan, a military commission prosecution at Guantánamo Bay; and Khan v. Biden, a habeas corpus petition filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Center for Constitutional Rights' representation of Majid Khan is part of our efforts to end indefinite detention without charge or trial, close Guantánamo, and to ensure accountability for U.S. torture. We were among the first attorneys to work on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners, and we will continue to do so until the prison is closed.
Khan is unique among Guantánamo prisoners in two important respects. First, a citizen of Pakistan, he has long had political asylum status in the United States and other substantial ties to this country. He grew up outside of Baltimore, Maryland, graduated from Owings Mills High School, and lived and worked in the area. He is married and has a young daughter he has never met. Several of his other family members are U.S. citizens and still live near Baltimore. Second, in March 2003, Khan was captured and forcibly disappeared by the United States. There is no serious dispute that he was abducted, imprisoned, and tortured by U.S. officials at secret overseas “black sites” operated by the Central Intelligence Agency before he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006. Nor is there any serious dispute that Khan’s detention and interrogation violated U.S. and international law.
Khan’s torture is described at length in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, key findings of which were released on December 9, 2014. The report describes some of the methods inflicted on him, which were deliberately and systematically applied to cause him severe physical and psychological harm, but which produced no actionable intelligence. The report states that he was subjected to torture methods such as sleep deprivation and nudity. The report also states that he was subjected to “rectal feeding,” a form of rape. In May 2015, the Center for Constitutional Rights obtained declassified notes describing some of Khan’s personal recollections of his experience in secret detention, including additional details of his torture such as the fact that he was waterboarded and threatened with harm to himself and his family.
In February 2012, Khan was charged and pled guilty to various offenses before a military commission at Guantánamo. In United States v. Khan, he pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement with the Convening Authority for Military Commissions. He was sentenced by a jury of senior military officers on October 28-29, 2021, which adjudged a 26-year sentence within a possible range of 25 to 40 years provided by his plea agreement. Seven of the eight jurors also wrote a letter recommending clemency for him. Given Khan's longstanding cooperation, the Convening Authority approved a sentence of only 10 years, which amounted to time served from the date of his guilty plea. Khan concluded his military commission sentence on March 1, 2022.
On June 7, 2022, Khan filed a new habeas case challenging his continued imprisonment beyond the conclusion of his sentence, Khan v. Biden. On July 25, 2022, he filed a motion for summary relief, seeking an order granting his habeas petition and ordering his prompt release from Guantánamo. He also requested interim relief, including conditional release from his prison cell into the Guantánamo Naval Base or parole into the United States. The government responded by stating that Khan’s transfer is a national security priority for the United States and that it has undertaken substantial efforts to locate a country to accept him, including engagement with eleven countries on the possibility of resettling him. But it opposed his motion for summary relief, including his request for interim relief, pending its efforts to transfer him. The government also sought to stay his case indefinitely pending its efforts to transfer him, which the court rejected. The government’s response to the merits of his habeas petition is due by February 6, 2023.
In its initial representation of Khan, the Center for Constitutional Rights had to fight for more than a year just to meet with our client, as the government objected because of the “unique circumstances” of his case, which the Center for Constitutional Rights argued was an attempt to conceal illegal conduct and acts that would embarrass the United States. Because Khan was initially denied access to counsel in his habeas case, Khan v. Obama, he filed a petition for review under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, Khan v. Gates. Those cases were later dismissed or withdrawn without merits rulings after he was charged by military commission.