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Rights group seeks release of Guantanamo interrogation videos

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Monday seeking the release of videotapes of the interrogation of an inmate held at the Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST news archive]. The CCR filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on behalf of Mohammed al-Qahtani [NYT profile; JURIST news archive], a Saudi citizen believed to be the twentieth hijacker in the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. The CCR claims that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text, PDF] compels the US government to publicly release the videotapes. The complaint argues that releasing the videotapes would serve the public interest "by providing the American [people] with unique documentation of the systematic abuses at Guantanamo." The comlaint also graphically describes the brutality al-Qahtani allegedly experienced in Guantanamo: "Mr. al-Qahtani's treatment consisted of daily 20-hour interrogation periods, along with severe sleep deprivation and isolation. United States military personnel flooded Mr. al-Qahtani's cell with light and loud music and/or sound during his brief periods of rest. He was isolated from other prisoners and deprived of sensory stimulation under a harsh regime of solitary confinement." A spokesperson for federal government attorneys in New York declared that the government had no comment on the lawsuit [AP report].

Al-Qahtani has been at the center of many controversies pertaining to the treatment of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. In April the US military released hundreds of classified documents to select news organizations [NYT report], including one which revealed that al-Qahtani was leashed like a dog, sexually humiliated and forced to urinate on himself. In January 2009 Susan Crawford, then-convening authority of military commissions, admitted [JURIST report] that torture tactics were used against al-Qahtani. Crawford refused to allow prosecution of al-Qahtani because he was tortured. In November 2008 US military prosecutors filed a new set of charges against al-Qahtani over his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks, after dropping charges in May 2008 [JURIST reports] following suspicions that al-Qahtani's statements were coerced by US torture [JURIST report]. US military personnel captured al-Qahtani in Afghanistan in December 2001 and transferred him to Guantanamo, where he has been held ever since.

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