Yemeni man accuses CIA of torture

A Yemeni national accused American secret agents of subjecting him to various forms of torture during nearly three years of CIA detention, in a statement released by Amnesty International yesterday. Khaled Abdu Ahmed Saleh Al Maqtari was arrested by American soldiers in Fallujah, Iraq, in January 2004, along with around 60 other people, he told the London-based human rights group. He said he was transferred to the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where he was held as a “ghost detainee”, where he experienced violent beatings, intimidation by dogs, sleep deprivation, induced hypothermia, and other forms of torture. Al Maqtari described one occasion when he was beaten by three men and then made to stand naked on a chair in front of an air conditioner while holding up a large bottle of water. During this time, he was periodically doused in water, making him feel so cold he had trouble standing.

The 31-year-old added that he was also suspended by his feet with his arms cuffed behind his back while he was lowered up and down over a water crate with a pulley. After nine days of interrogation at Abu Ghraib, Al Maqtari was transferred to Afghanistan in a secret CIA flight, Amnesty said. The organisation added that flight records it obtained showed a plane operated by the CIA left Baghdad for Kabul nine days after the Yemeni national’s arrest.

In Afghanistan, Al Maqtari was again subjected to torture, including prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme heat and cold, and sensory deprivation with bright lighting and loud music or sounds channeled into his cell, among other forms of ill-treatment, it said. At the end of April 2004, Al Maqtari was transferred to another secret CIA detention centre, according to Amnesty, possibly in eastern Europe, where he was held for nearly two and a half years, before eventually being transferred to Yemen, where he was detained until May 2007.

“At no point during his 32-month confinement was Khaled al-Maqtari told where he was or why,” said Anne FitzGerald, an Amnesty senior adviser. “He did not have access to lawyers, relatives, the International Committee of the Red Cross or any person other than his interrogators and the personnel involved in his detention and transfer. This clearly violates the US’s international obligations.”