NEW YORK – September 3 – Today, in a case filed on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), attorneys argued that video recordings of CCR client Mohammed al Qahtani at Guantanamo Bay should be released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. The government possesses tapes of al Qahtani made when he was in solitary confinement immediately prior to a period, detailed in a log published by Time Magazine in 2006, in which al Qahtani was systematically tortured. He is the only Guantanamo prisoner whom the U.S. government has explicitly acknowledged torturing. Al Qahtani’s attorneys at CCR have viewed the tapes, but are prohibited from discussing their contents, including confirming or denying whether they contain footage of abuse.
“Without access to documentation of abuses such as the torture of Mr. al Qahtani, the public is deprived of its best mechanism for holding officials accountable and its most powerful impetus to change policies. The government has already destroyed hundreds of hours of videotape depicting harsh interrogations of prisoners by the CIA, for the express purpose of avoiding public scrutiny. Release of al Qahtani’s tapes will provide a unique opportunity for accountability—one that was lost when those other tapes were destroyed.” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Shayana Kadidal, referring to an order by Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., former head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, to destroy 92 video tapes of interrogations at CIA black sites.