ACLU Demands Disclosure of Basic Facts About Bagram Detainees

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU Demands Disclosure of Basic Facts About Bagram Detainees

Government Continues to Suppress Key Information About Hundreds Detained at Secretive Prison

NEW YORK - The
American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal court to order the
government to stop suppressing key information about the hundreds of
prisoners at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

In response to an ACLU Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records related to the detention and
treatment of prisoners at Bagram, the Defense Department in January
released for the first time a list of the people imprisoned at the
notorious detention facility. The list contains the names of 645
prisoners who were detained there as of September 2009, but other vital
information including their citizenship, how long they have been held,
in what country they were captured and the circumstances of their
capture has been redacted. Today's brief charges the Defense Department
is improperly withholding these basic facts about Bagram prisoners and
their detention.

Today's ACLU filing also asks the
court to order the CIA, another defendant in the lawsuit, to process
the FOIA request. The CIA has refused to process the request, claiming
it cannot acknowledge whether it has Bagram-related rendition and
interrogation records - even though its rendition of prisoners to
Bagram and its interrogation of prisoners there is acknowledged and
well-known.

The following can be attributed to Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:

"While the Defense Department took a
step in the right direction when it released the names of Bagram
prisoners, the Department continues to withhold every other piece of
vital information from that document. Information such as how long
Bagram prisoners have been held, where they were captured and how they
ended up in U.S. custody is vital to the public's understanding of what
is going on at this secretive prison. The Defense Department has
released volumes of this kind of information about Guantánamo prisoners
but is baselessly hiding the same basic facts about Bagram prisoners.
As long as the government improperly suppresses this information, there
is no way to know if prisoners are being held for excessively long
periods of time or if they should even be there at all, since they may
have been seized far away from Afghanistan and rendered to Bagram or
arrested under circumstances that do not warrant military detention.
The court should order the government to stop hiding this vital
information."
 
More information about the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit, including today's filings, is online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/bagram-foia

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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