The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Italian "Extraordinary Rendition" Victim Still Held In Morocco Based On Tortured Confession

Rights Groups Ask U.N. Special Rapporteurs To Investigate And Take Action


rights groups today asked two U.N. Special Rapporteurs to investigate
the case of Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen and victim of the
CIA's unlawful "extraordinary rendition" program who is currently held
in a Moroccan prison based on a confession coerced from him through
torture. The American Civil Liberties Union and Alkarama for Human
Rights requested that the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and the
U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
while Countering Terrorism investigate the circumstances of Britel's
forced disappearance, rendition, detention and torture, and raise his
case with the governments of the United States, Morocco, Pakistan and

"Victims of the 'extraordinary
rendition' program detained at Guantanamo and other prisons around the
world are being ignored by the U.S. government, whose unlawful program
landed them there in the first place," said Steven Watt, staff attorney
with the ACLU Human Rights Program. "The U.S. has failed to take
responsibility for its most egregious actions, leaving Mr. Britel and
countless other victims of the 'extraordinary rendition' program with
no choice but to turn to the international community for justice."

Britel, also a plaintiff in the
ACLU's lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role
in the rendition program, is one of the few victims of the program
whose identity is known, and who is still detained outside of
Guantanamo Bay.

Britel was initially apprehended and
detained in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities on alleged immigration
violations in February 2002. After a period of detention and
interrogation there, he was handed over to U.S. officials.

In May 2002, U.S. officials stripped
and beat Britel before dressing him in a diaper and overalls, shackling
and blindfolding him and flying him to Morocco for detention and
interrogation. Once in Morocco, U.S. officials handed him over to
Moroccan intelligence officials who detained him incommunicado at the
Temara detention center, where he was interrogated, beaten, deprived of
sleep and food and threatened with sexual torture.

"Given Mr. Britel's own account of
his treatment and the long documented history of torture and abuse in
detention facilities run by the Moroccan government, we have a firm
foundation for believing that Mr. Britel has been, and is currently
being, subjected to torture," said Rachid Mesli, Director of Alkarama's
Legal Department. "Mr. Britel and all other victims of "extraordinary
rendition" deserve their day in court and fair trials not tainted by
evidence obtained through torture. We hope the Special Rapporteurs will
immediately act on our request to bring swift and much-needed attention
to Mr. Britel's case, before the conditions under which he is held do
further damage to his physical and psychological health."

According to the request, after
being released from custody by Moroccan authorities in February 2003,
Britel was again arrested and detained in May 2003 as he attempted to
leave Morocco for his home in Italy. While detained incommunicado in
the same detention facility where he had been brutally tortured only
months earlier, Britel falsely confessed under torture to his
involvement in terrorism. Britel was later tried and convicted by a
Moroccan court on terrorism-related charges and is currently serving a
nine-year sentence in a Moroccan prison.

In 2006, an Italian investigating
judge dismissed a six-year long investigation into Britel's alleged
involvement in terrorism after the judge found a complete lack of
evidence linking him with any terrorist-related or criminal activity.

Today's filings with the Special Rapporteurs are available online at:

More information about the ACLU's lawsuit against Jeppesen DataPlan is online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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