New Evidence Of Abuse At Bagram Underscores Need For Full Disclosure About Prison, Says ACLU

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American Civil Liberties Union
6/24/2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – Former detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, according to a new BBC report based on interviews with former detainees held at Bagram between 2002 and 2006. Hundreds of detainees are still being held in U.S. custody at the Bagram prison without charge or trial.

“When prisoners are in American custody and under American control, no matter the location, our values and commitment to the rule of law are at stake,” said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project. “Torture and abuse at Bagram is further evidence that prisoner abuse in U.S. custody was systemic, not aberrational, and originated at the highest levels of government. We must learn the truth about what went wrong, hold the proper people accountable and make sure these failed policies are not continued or repeated.”

In April, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records pertaining to the detention and treatment of prisoners held at Bagram, including the number of people currently detained, their names, citizenship, place of capture and length of detention. The ACLU is also seeking records pertaining to the process afforded those prisoners to challenge their detention and designation as “enemy combatants.”

“The U.S. government’s detention of hundreds of prisoners at Bagram has been shrouded in complete secrecy,” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “The American people have a right to know what’s happening at Bagram and whether prisoners have been tortured there.”

In a related case, the ACLU is representing former Bagram prisoner Mohammed Jawad in a habeas corpus challenge to his indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay. The Afghan government recently sent a letter to the U.S. government suggesting Jawad was as young as 12 when he was captured in Afghanistan and taken to Bagram, where he was tortured. Despite the fact that the primary evidence against Jawad was thrown out in his military commission case at Guantánamo because it was derived through torture, the U.S. government continues to rely on such evidence – including evidence obtained during interrogations at Bagram – in Jawad’s current habeas case to justify holding him indefinitely.

The ACLU’s FOIA request, including a complete list of documents being requested, is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/detention/39441lgl20090423.html

More about Jawad’s case is online at: www.aclu.org/jawad

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