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Citing ‘state secrets,’ US Supreme Court rules against Guantanamo detainee

The US Supreme Court ruled against a Guantanamo detainee on Thursday who was seeking to force the government to disclose information about his torture at a CIA “black site” in Poland.

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian, wanted the US high court to force two psychologists who ran the CIA’s brutal interrogations of suspects after the September 11, 2001, attacks to testify in his case against Poland.

The US government objected, citing “state secrets,” and a majority of the nine-member Supreme Court backed the government stance.

Abu Zubaydah filed a criminal complaint in 2010 in Poland, where he was held at a CIA detention site in 2002 and 2003 after his capture in Pakistan and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Polish prosecutors requested information related to Abu Zubaydah’s treatment in Poland but the requests were rejected by the US government on national security grounds.

“The state secrets privilege permits the Government to prevent disclosure of information when that disclosure would harm national security interests,” the justices said.

“We conclude that in this case the state secrets privilege applies to the existence (or nonexistence) of a CIA facility in Poland,” they added.

“Obviously the Court condones neither terrorism nor torture, but in this case we are required to decide only a narrow evidentiary dispute.”

Two justices, Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, and Sonia Sotomayor, a liberal, dissented, saying the information Abu Zubaydah is requesting is already public knowledge.

“Abu Zubaydah seeks information about his torture at the hands of the CIA,” they said. “The events in question took place two decades ago. They have long been declassified.

“Official reports have been published, books written, and movies made about them.

“Still, the government seeks to have this suit dismissed on the ground it implicates a state secret — and today the Court acquiesces in that request.

“Ending this suit may shield the government from some further modest measure of embarrassment,” they said. “But respectfully, we should not pretend it will safeguard any secret.”

Abu Zubaydah, whose full name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, was the first of a number of detainees to be subjected to CIA “enhanced interrogation” in the wake of 9/11.

He was waterboarded 83 times, according to a US Senate report, and suffered other physical abuse.

He was sent to Guantanamo in 2006 and remains there. The Senate report said the CIA conceded he was never a member of Al-Qaeda and not involved in planning the 9/11 attacks.

US courts have rebuffed his habeas corpus petitions since then, and the US military justice system has refused to release him, so in 2010 he sued in Poland to hold the government there responsible for his treatment. AFP

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