Oct 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Gitmo detainee's abuse "a stain on the moral fiber of America," military jury writes

The U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo: Maren Hennemuth/picture alliance via Getty Images

Members of a military jury condemned the brutal abuse of a Guantánamo Bay detainee at the hands of the CIA and urged a Pentagon official overseeing the court to grant clemency, in a letter obtained by the New York Times.

Why it matters: At his sentencing hearing last week, Majid Khan became the first detainee to testify about the abuse he experienced as part of the U.S. government's interrogation program at CIA black sites.

  • The jury sentenced Khan, a Pakistani citizen and former Baltimore resident who joined al-Qaeda as a courier, to 26 years in prison Friday. He could be released as early as next year due to his cooperation with U.S. authorities in other investigations.
  • Khan detailed his treatment, including sexual assault, sleep deprivation, beatings, solitary confinement, starvations and forced enemas.

The big picture: The handwritten letter, signed by seven out of the eight members of the sentencing jury, noted that Khan's treatment resembled the "torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history," per the Times.

  • “This abuse was of no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests,” the members noted, citing Khan's testimony that he resorted to lying after cooperation merely resulted in more abuse.
  • "It is a stain on the moral fiber of America; the treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of U.S. personnel should be a source of shame for the U.S. government," the letter states.
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