Officers on Gitmo Jury Slam Torture, Recommend Clemency

They call treatment of Majid Khan 'a stain on the moral fiber of America'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2021 1:25 PM CDT
Gitmo Jurors Call Torture a 'Stain on the Moral Fiber of America'
This photo provided by the Center for Constitutional Rights shows Majid Khan.   (Center for Constitutional Rights via AP)

After a two-day sentencing hearing at Guantanamo Bay, a military jury sentenced former al-Qaeda operative Majid Khan to 26 years Friday—but seven of the eight jurors took the unusual step of writing a letter to a senior official urging clemency. The military officers, who had been required to sentence Khan to between 25 and 40 years in prison, called the torture at CIA black sites he had described a "stain on the moral fiber of America," the New York Times reports. "The treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of the US personnel should be a source of shame for the US government," the officers wrote.

Khan has been in US custody since he was captured in Pakistan in 2003. The 41-year-old, who served as a courier for al-Qaeda, said that in the three years before he arrived at Guantanamo Bay, his abuse at CIA sites in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and a third country included waterboarding, sexual assaults, and being hung naked from a ceiling beam, Al Jazeera reports. His treatment went "well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history," wrote the jurors, who noted that the abuse was of no "practical value in terms of intelligence."

The seven jurors described holding Khan for nine years without charge and denying him a lawyer for his first four years in custody as "an affront to American values and concept of justice." Former Marine Ian Moss, a lawyer on Khan's defense team, tells that Times that the clemency letter is especially powerful since "given the jury members’ seniority, it stands to reason that their military careers have been impacted in direct and likely personal ways by the past two decades of war."

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Khan, a Pakistani citizen who graduated from high school in Baltimore, has cooperated extensively with the US government after pleading guilty to terrorism-related charges almost a decade ago. As part of a plea deal jurors were not told about, he could be released as soon as February next year, though the Biden administration will have to find a third country willing to accept Khan, his wife, and the daughter who was born in Pakistan after he was detained, the AP reports. (More Majid Khan stories.)

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