ACLU Challenges Destruction Of Evidence In Indefinite Detention Case
Group Says Government Must Preserve Evidence Of Al-Marri’s Brutal Interrogations In US
CHARLESTON, SC - The
American Civil Liberties Union today appealed a court decision allowing
the government to destroy and obstruct evidence depicting the brutal
interrogations of Ali al-Marri, who has been detained in solitary
confinement at a Navy brig in South Carolina since June 2003. Just last
week, newly released military documents obtained by the ACLU and Yale
Law School's Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic showed that the Navy
applied lawless Guantánamo protocols in detention facilities on
American soil, including the brig where al-Marri is held.
"The government has admitted to
destroying evidence depicting the brutal interrogations of Mr. al-Marri
while he was held incommunicado at the Navy brig. The court was
absolutely wrong to let the government off the hook for this
inexcusable conduct," said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the
ACLU National Security Project. "We are hopeful the district court will
reverse this decision and protect the integrity of the proceedings in
this case. Especially in light of what we now know about the
Gitmo-ization of American detention facilities, we should have a full
accounting of what happened."
After several newspapers reported
that the government had destroyed evidence in al-Marri's case,
including recordings depicting his abusive interrogation, al-Marri
immediately sought a court order requiring the government to preserve
all remaining evidence and investigate the past destruction of
evidence. A court denied this request earlier this month. Today, the
ACLU is appealing that decision.
According to documents released last
week, the standard operating procedure developed for Guantánamo Bay
governed every aspect of detentions at the brig where al-Marri is held
in the United States. Al-Marri has reported being subjected to many of
the brutal interrogation techniques used at Guantánamo Bay, including
sleep deprivation, painful stress positions, prolonged isolation,
extreme sensory deprivation and threats of violence and death.
Last month, in a separate lawsuit,
the ACLU urged the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Bush
administration's authority to indefinitely imprison al-Marri without
charge or trial. The ACLU asked the Court to reverse a federal appeals
court decision that gave the president sweeping power to deprive
individuals in the United States, including American citizens, of their
most basic constitutional rights. The ACLU's request for Supreme Court
review of the case is still pending.
The legal brief in today's case is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/
The documents released last week
revealing Guantánamo protocols were applied to detention facilities on
American soil are available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/
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