For Immediate Release
Rachel Myers, ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Rights Groups Ask UN to Investigate Case of Disappeared Spanish Citizen
Father of Four Transferred to US Custody In 2005 Not Heard From Since
NEW YORK - Human
rights groups today asked two U.N. Special Rapporteurs and the U.N.
Working Group on Involuntary or Enforced Disappearances to investigate
the case of Mustafa Setmariam Nassar, a Spanish citizen who was
forcibly disappeared almost four years ago. According to media reports,
Nassar, an influential Islamic theorist, was apprehended by Pakistani
officials and handed over to U.S. officials in October 2005 and has not
been heard from since. In June 2009, in response to an American Civil
Liberties Union request for information about Nassar's whereabouts, the
CIA stated that it could "neither confirm nor deny the existence or
nonexistence of records" responsive to the request.
"Mr. Nassar's wife and children want
to know if he is still alive and where he is," said Steven Watt, staff
attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. "Requests for information
about his forced disappearance, nearly four years ago, have been
ignored by the U.S. government, and his family now has no other choice
but to turn to the international community for assistance in their
Today's requests, filed by the ACLU,
Reprieve and Alkarama, ask the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture,
Manfred Nowak, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Human
Rights While Countering Terrorism, Martin Scheinin, and the U.N.
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to raise
Nassar's case with the U.S. government and other governments that may
have assisted the U.S. in Nassar's disappearance or may have
information that could assist in locating him.
Although information about Nassar's
disappearance is scarce, the known details suggest he was a victim of
the unlawful "extraordinary rendition" program, which enabled the U.S.,
with the assistance of other governments, to kidnap and transport
foreign nationals suspected of terrorism to secret overseas detention
facilities for interrogation and torture.
Official U.S. documents and media
reports indicate that the U.S. had long been interested in capturing
Nassar, suspecting him of involvement in certain terrorist acts but
never charging him with a crime. In January 2005, months before his
reported capture in Pakistan, the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan announced a
$5 million reward for information leading to Nassar's capture, which
was withdrawn around the time of his reported capture. The U.S.
National Counterterrorism Center confirms Nassar's capture in November
2005, and media reports indicate that Nassar was later held for a time
at a U.S. military base on the British-owned island of Diego Garcia in
the Indian Ocean.
In June 2009, responding to a
request from a Spanish judge for information on Nassar's whereabouts,
the FBI stated it was not holding him in the United States but failed
to address whether Nassar was being held in U.S. custody elsewhere.
Asserting that the information is classified, the U.S. government has
also refused to answer direct requests for information about Nassar's
whereabouts made by his wife, Spanish citizen Helena Moreno Cruz.
"I have been bringing up four
children without their father for nearly four years now. They keep
asking about dad and I have no idea what to tell them anymore - I don't
even know if their father is still alive. Without knowing what has
happened to my husband, I don't know where to go with my life or how to
move on. The pain of not knowing is becoming unbearable and I am so
concerned for my children's wellbeing if they should find out about the
tragedy that we are being put through," said Cruz. "If my husband is
suspected of doing anything wrong, he should get his day in court. If
he isn't, he should be let go. No one deserves to be treated like this.
Everywhere I turn I am denied information, so I am asking the U.N. to
help bring my husband, myself and our children a little bit of
Today's requests are available online at: www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/
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.