Majid Khan and meaningful access to counsel

Gitanjali Gutierrez [Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights]: "In March 2003, Majid Khan, his brother, his sister-in-law, and his year-old niece were arrested by Pakistani intelligence. It was more than three years before Majid was heard from again. For much of that time, he was held incommunicado by the CIA, and subject to the Bush Administration's "enhanced interrogation techniques." Now, the government is arguing that due to his knowledge of these techniques, Majid possesses classified information which cannot be shared with his attorneys.

In other words, the government is essentially citing the fact that it tortured Majid as a reason to deny him prompt access to counsel.

Knowledge of the government's interrogation techniques is already public; Khaled el Masri, a detainee who was ultimately released without charge, has made a sworn statement that he was imprisoned along with Majid Khan, and described their conditions of confinement and the techniques they were subject to.

The government has also falsely equated speaking to a lawyer with the public disclosure of information. Approximately 500 habeas counsel currently representing men detained at Guantánamo Bay do so under a protective order determining their access to classified information. No classified information has been revealed under this system. And yet the government has called for a new protective order, as a means to delay further Majid's access to counsel.

Classification authority cannot be used to conceal Majid's personal experience of torture, disappearance, and indefinite detention at the hands of the United States. It is intolerable for the Bush Administration to assert its own unacceptable and notorious treatment of this man as the rationale for perpetuating his isolation. To do so will only make it more difficult for him to attain the justice he so desperately seeks.

Meaningful access to counsel is a pillar of our justice system. Without it, there can be no justice."

 

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