US Court Backs Secrecy on Bagram Jail Despite Torture Claims

October 26th, 2010 - by admin

PressTV – 2010-10-26 22:23:13

US Court Backs Secrecy on Bagram Jail

(October 26, 2010) — The Pentagon has released the names of nearly 650 of detainees in its Bagram prison facility and air base in Afghanistan, but it refuses to disclose other information about their nationalities, charges against them and circumstances of their arrest. A US court has ruled that American military can keep secret key information about hundreds of its detainees taken and held at its prison facility in Afghanistan.

The ruling came in response to a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the US Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. The lawsuit sought the disclosure of information about detainees held at Bagram military base in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has released the names of nearly 650 prisoners detained there as of September 2009. However, it refuses to disclose other vital information about the prisoners, including the detainees’ nationalities, how long they have been held and the circumstances surrounding their capture.

The ACLU decried the ruling, saying in a statement on Monday that Bagram has “become the new Guantanamo”, referring to the US-run military prison in Cuba.

“The public has a right to know how long the US has kept people locked up in military detention and under what circumstances,” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the group.

She added that the “lack of transparency about these key facts is even more disturbing considering the possibility that the US will continue holding and interrogating prisoners at Bagram well into the future.”

Bagram Base ‘another Guantanamo’, Says ACLU

(August 13, 2009) — The ACLU said in a statement that it was seeking the names and the nationalities of about 600 detainees currently held at Bagram, just north of Kabul.

Additionally, the civil rights organization said it wants to know how many detainees there are, where they are detained and other essential facts.

“There are serious concerns that Bagram is another Guantanamo — except with many more prisoners, less due process, no access to lawyers or courts and reportedly worse conditions,” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “As long as the Bagram prison is shrouded in secrecy, there is no way to know the truth or begin to address the problems that exist there,” she said.

The ACLU made a formal request for the information in April under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The DOD (Department of Defense) told the ACLU that it has a list containing basic information about the Bagram detainees but is withholding it in its entirety. The CIA has refused even to confirm the existence of records about Bagram,” the ACLU added in a statement.

No US Trials for Bagram Detainees

(May 22, 2010) — The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that Yemeni native Fadi al-Maqaleh and two other men held captive at Bagram Air Field will not be granted the same habeas rights previously extended by the Supreme Court to Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Citing geographic and other differences between the air base in Afghanistan and the naval base in Cuba, the three-judge panel overturned a trial court’s conclusion that the Bagram detainees were constitutionally similar to those held in Guantanamo.

“Guantanamo Bay is a territory that, while technically not a part of the United States, is under the complete and total control of our government,” Judge David Sentelle wrote. At Bagram, he added, “the surrounding circumstances are hardly the same.”

The court concluded that the rights granted by the US Constitution cannot be applied to individuals subject to the laws of Afghanistan.

New Report Confirms Torture at Bagram

(October 14, 2010) — A new report reveals that American prison guards have mistreated Afghan detainees held at the notorious US-run Bagram prison camp and airbase in Afghanistan.

According to the report, issued by the US-based Open Society Foundation on Thursday, former Bagram detainees say their US jailors placed prisoners in solitary confinement, abused them and prevented them from observing religious rituals.

They also say they were deprived of proper food and natural light. “It was like sleeping in the fridge,” one of the former detainees told researchers for the report. Other revelations show that prison guards withheld Red Cross visits to the secret US prison.

However, the US claims that all its facilities operate legally and meet international requirements and detention rules. US officials also claim that all inmates in the facility are treated humanely.

Over 800 detainees are being held at the Bagram military base. The secret prison became a symbol of prisoner abuse after US troops beat two detainees to death there in 2002.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed reports on the existence of a secret detention facility at the US airbase in Bagram. The Red Cross said in May 2010 that it had been informed of names of several detainees held in the hidden prison in Afghanistan.

Several former prisoners asserted earlier in April that they were held at the facility, where they suffered abuse. Human rights groups say Bagram has remained a US torture center since the toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan nine years ago.

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