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Suspected '20th hijacker' told military tribunal he was tortured: FOIA documents

[JURIST] Mohammed al-Qahtani, the so-called "20th hijacker" from the Sept. 11 attacks, has disclaimed his confession about his participation in the terrorist attacks, alleging that his statements were coerced by US torture. In documents obtained by the Associated Press Friday through the Freedom of Information Act [text], Qahtani denied involvement in and knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks [JURIST news archive] during his first appearance before a US military tribunal in October 2006. In March 2006 his lawyer made similar statements [JURIST report] as reported by TIME magazine. In the transcript of the October hearing, Qahtani claims that his statements confessing to his involvement in the attacks were coerced. In a separate statement, Qahtani details the alleged torture, which included being beaten, restrained in uncomfortable positions, threatened with dogs, exposed to freezing temperatures and stripped nude in front of female personnel.

A military investigation in 2005 concluded that Qahtani had been subjected to harsh treatment, authorized [JURIST report] by former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] because he would not crack under interrogation. The investigation revealed that Qahtani was forced to wear women's underwear [MSNBC report], was kept in solitary confinement for 160 days and was interrogated for 18-20 hours per day on 48 of 54 days. Lead investigator Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt concluded, however, that Qahtani was not tortured since he was not denied food, water or medical care, and interrogators did not inflict physical pain on him.

Qahtani [JURIST news archive] was refused entry into the US in August 2001 and was later captured in Afghanistan; he has since been held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], where Pentagon officials say he admitted to being sent to the US to participate in the attacks. AP has more.

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