London – CAGE demands full accountability for the torture and imprisonment of Ali Saleh Alkohlah al-Marri who was afforded no due legal process from 2002 to 2009, and who was released after 13 years in prison to his family in Qatar a few days ago.
“For many years he was one of three held in the US as an enemy combatant and, like the enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, was tortured”, said Asim Qureshi Research Director of CAGE.
“Techniques used against al-Marri included dryboarding, where his airways would have been stuffed with socks and his mouth taped, causing him to choke. According to the CIA torture report where al-Marri is also mentioned, the CIA were not given the green light to use this technique yet reports have suggested that the use of this technique led directly to the deaths of three men at Guantanamo in 2006.
We demand the full disclosure of all such techniques, and for those responsible for using them or giving their go-ahead, to be brought to justice”, Qureshi also said.
His homecoming included a reunion with his 14 year-old son Abdur-Rahman, whom he had last seen when he was nine months old.
“Finally after 13 years of unjust imprisonment, I am home with my family whom I have missed more than anyone can hope to imagine,” Al-Marri told CAGE. “I have missed so much of my children’s lives, years I will never get back.”
“For years I lived in a judicial black hole that I hope no one should have to endure. Right now I am just happy to be back in my homeland.”
Al-Marri, a Qatari national and US resident, arrived in the United States with his wife and five children on 10 September 2001, when he began his studies at Bradley University in Illinois.
Three months later he was detained as a “material witness” and then held for charges of credit card fraud. Less than a month before his trial, the charges were dropped and he was declared an ‘enemy combatant’.
He was detained for 17 months with no access to a lawyer, in solitary confinement, without basic provisions such as toilet paper, mattress, pillow and proper clothing. He was often admonished for covering his head (which he did with a shirt) when he prayed.
His lawyers maintained in court documents that lights and water in his cell were turned on and off and his environment was “deliberately manipulated to degrade him”. When his health deteriorated as a result of his detention, he was denied basic medical attention.
“Though we welcome the news of Al-Marri’s release, we demand full accountability for his detention-without-trial and torture in the United States,” says Qureshi.
CAGE has the following statements to make in wake of Al-Marri’s release:
“We stand with Al-Marri’s family in joyfully welcoming back to his homeland, but the circumstances around his detention and imprisonment show a cat-and-mouse game played by those who sought to keep him behind bars, without evidence or fair trial.”
“Seven years ago the court ruled that Al-Marri be released from military detention and either freed or actually charged and tried in a civilian court. But in a rehearing, the court reversed its decision, voting to keep him as an enemy combatant in military detention.”
“His lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, said Al-Marri agreed to a plea bargain in 2009 only because he wanted to go home.” After a full seven years of torture and imprisonment without charge, he was offered a “plea bargain” which he, given the circumstances quite naturally accepted, which offered him a chance for freedom after serving a 15 year sentence.”
“Given the torture that al-Marri was subjected to, and the fact that he has now been released, show that his plea bargain took place under duress and is inadmissible evidence.”
“The events of his detention show an absence of due process, a hallmark of the War on Terror, which alienates Muslims, fair minded people around the world and increases extremism around the world. ”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)