Lithuania pays Guantánamo ‘forever prisoner’ Abu Zubaydah € 100,000 for CIA torture | Guantanamo Bay

Lithuania has paid more than $ 110,000 to Abu Zubaydah, the Guantánamo prisoner known as “the eternal prisoner”, as compensation for allowing the CIA to detain him in a secret location outside Vilnius, where he was subjected to torture.

The payment of € 100,000 ($ 113,500) comes more than three years after the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Lithuanian government to pay compensation for violations of European laws banning the use of torture.

It marks a marked shift in the treatment of Zubaydah, who has been detained by the United States without charge for more than 20 years.

Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan six months after 9/11. Lawyers for the CIA and the Bush administration sought to justify his torture by claiming he was a very senior figure in al-Qaeda. It turned out that he was not a member of the organization and he has never been charged with involvement in 9/11.

For much of the time since his arrest, Zubaydah has been detained incommunicado following the insistence of the CIA as part of its efforts to prevent details of his torture from becoming public.

Lawyers for Zubaydah believe it is highly unlikely that Lithuania would have paid the compensation without Washington’s approval.

“The situation is much less incommunicado when you pay € 100,000 to someone and the whole world knows about it,” Mark Denbeaux, one of Zubaydah’s legal teams based in the United States, told the Guardian.

An image provided by the US Central Command shows Abu Zubaydah.
An image provided by the US Central Command shows Abu Zubaydah. Photo: AP

“This move is in line with the idea that the United States is softening its stance on the detention of eternal prisoners. The United States could have clearly prevented Lithuania from handing over this money, and the question is, why did they not?

The news of the Lithuanian payment comes a few days before the 20th anniversary of the military prison in Guantánamo, which received its first prisoners on January 11, 2002. In recent months, there have been other signs of a changing attitude towards Zubaydah and the torture inflicted him by CIA agents and contractors.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case in which the U.S. government seeks to block two CIA contractors from testifying in Poland about torture Zubaydah suffered in 2002 and 2003 in a secret or “black” place in that country. During the hearing, several of the judges, including conservatives, broke a legal taboo by openly using the word “torture”.

In Zubaydah’s case against Lithuania, which was led on the European side by his lawyer Helen Duffy, the European Court of Human Rights heard that Zubaydah was detained at a CIA black spot in that country from February 2005 to March 2006. The page, codenamed Violet, was in the outskirts of Vilnius.

The most brutal forms of torture that Zubaydah endured took place in 2002, when he was detained at a black CIA site in Thailand. An entire program of torture, euphemistically referred to by the CIA as “improved interrogation techniques,” was devised for the captivity of two psychologists under contract with the agency.

Zubaydah was waterproofed – a form of controlled drowning – at least 83 times in August 2002, as well as being placed in a coffin size for days.

European judges heard that Zubaydah was unlikely to have suffered the most severe forms of torture while in Lithuania. But he was subjected to techniques still similar to torture, lawyers argued, including lack of sense and sleep, solitary confinement, loud noise and harsh light.

The money that Lithuania has transferred is now in a bank account. Zubaydah is unable to receive the amount due to his detention in Guantánamo and because his assets have been frozen by the US Treasury Department.

A similar freeze on his assets by the UN Security Council was reversed two years ago, following a petition by his lawyers.

Give a Comment