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Senators say US must probe claims that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured

[JURIST] US senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) [official profiles], both of whom watched last weekend's Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) [DOD backgrounder] hearing [JURIST report] at Guantanamo Bay for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile], insisted in a joint statement [text] Friday that his claims that he was tortured in US custody [HRW report] had to be "taken seriously and properly investigated", suggesting that to do otherwise "would reflect poorly on our nation." Mohammed claims he was abused during his captivity at secret detention facilities [JURIST news archive] operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] prior to his transfer to Guantanamo [JURIST news archive]. The senators observed the hearing on closed circuit TV during a trip to Guantanamo Bay, and described the tribunal as consisting of three military officers and the president of the tribunal, who was a judge advocate. The names of the presiding officers were redacted from the public record of the hearing released by the Pentagon Wednesday. Mohammed was "administratively assisted" by a "personal representative" who was not a lawyer.

Levin, the chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee [official website], stated last November that his committee's priorities will include an investigation [JURIST report] into CIA extraordinary rendition flights [JURIST news archive]. Mohammed was transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention facilities last September from a secret CIA prison facility [JURIST report] at an as-yet-unknown location. The CSRT hearing will determine whether he qualifies as an "enemy combatant" [CFR backgrounder, JURIST news archive] warranting further detention. AP has more.

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