GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — US diplomats have asked 11 countries if they would be willing to take on a former Al Qaeda courier who was tortured by the CIA and became a government informant, Justice Department lawyers said in a lawsuit on Tuesday.
The lawyers said finding land to resettle the detainee, Majid Khan, 42, with his wife and daughter, was a priority for the Biden administration as prosecutors discuss possible plea deals with other detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
Mr Khan, a Pakistani citizen trained in the US, gained attention last year as the first former inmate of the CIA’s black prison network to publicly describe his torture, between 2003 and 2006, by US agents. A US military jury condemned his treatment as “a stain on America’s moral fiber”.
Attorneys for the Justice Department described the Biden administration’s efforts to find a place for him in a file urging U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton in Washington to take no action at the time of his request. Mr Khan on habeas corpus.
“The government is actively — and urgently — working to facilitate the petitioner’s transfer,” the lawyers wrote in a 37-page document that did not clarify how many of the 11 countries were still considering the petition.
Mr Khan pleaded guilty to terrorism-related offenses in 2012. His lawyers have described him as isolated in the same detention environment in which he served his sentence, which ended on March 1.
In a July 25 filing, they asked the judge to order his release in the United States or at the U.S. naval base outside the prison zone, which functions like a small U.S. town of 6,000.
Alternatively, they said, he would have to be transferred to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, which has a small facility on the base housing Cubans and other Caribbean citizens whose cases are being reviewed for possible asylum from third countries.
mr. Khan has relatives in suburban Baltimore, where he attended high school in the 1990s. But US law prohibits the release of Guantánamo detainees in the United States.
Justice Department lawyers also rejected the suggestion to release him at the base.
But his lawyers say he cannot return to Pakistan, where his wife and daughter live, because he fears prosecution there as a former Qaeda member who testified against other Guantanamo detainees.
Army Colonel Matthew Jemmott, the director of the Pentagon’s prison, disputed Mr Khan’s description of his detention as essentially solitary confinement.
Mr Khan associates with FBI agents, prison guards, military lawyers and top prison officials at “religious parties, social gatherings and gatherings on detention-related matters,” Colonel Jemmott said in an affidavit.
He also said that Mr Khan was entitled to quarterly conversations with family through a prison program called Detainee Interactive Call Experience, but that he had turned down his last two offers. DICE, as the Colonel put it, has been described in court as stop-and-go, intelligence-led conversations. A security guard listens to what the detainee wants to say during the conversation and decides on the spot whether to release the audio to the family member. The family member’s response is also on a censored delay.
Justice Department lawyers said in their file that finding a country to safely resettle Mr Khan “is in the interest of national security to encourage cooperation by individuals accused of terrorist acts or other criminal offenses committed.” be tried by military commissions.”
Of the 36 detainees at Guantánamo, two – including Mr Khan – have been convicted and 10 others are under preliminary investigation.
Prosecutors are conducting plea negotiations with the five men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks. It is not known whether any of the suspects are seeking sentences that could lead to resettlement in third countries or imprisonment abroad.
But a disabled Iraqi prisoner recently offered an IOU in exchange for a two-year transfer to a country that can provide him with medical treatment.
Justice Department lawyers said Mr Khan’s detention was lawful because “hostilities with Al Qaeda continue”. They cited the CIA drone attack last month that killed the movement’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, in Kabul, Afghanistan, as proof that the war had not ended.