A federal judge in Spokane has been asked to turn over evidence needed to determine a legal dispute in Poland regarding whether laws were broken when that country allowed the CIA to operate a black site where enemy combatants were tortured.
The legal filing seeks to have U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush approve subpoenas and use essentially the same evidence that has been gathered in a 2015 civil suit that alleges torture was used against three former detainees by Spokane psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.
The most recent legal case was filed last month by attorneys representing Abu Zubaydah, who was taken into U.S. custody in 2002 and was wrongly accused of being one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks. Zubaydah remains in custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The legal case “simply seeks (Mitchell and Jessen’s) evidence in support of an investigation that is going on in Poland,” said attorney David Klein, of Washington, D.C., who filed the action on behalf of Zubaydah.
The CIA at one point moved Zubaydah and interrogated him at a black site in Poland between 2002 and 2003.
“Polish officials apparently helped in the interrogation and Mitchell and Jessen were present for those events,” Klein said. “They are not defendants in this action. We are seeking their testimony.”
The legal request was filed under a law that authorizes Quackenbush to order the production of documents and testimony for use in a foreign proceeding from any person who resides in judge’s district.
“It’s not necessarily the case that we are expecting Mitchell and Jessen to name names,” Klein said. “They may provide circumstances or dates or other facts that may be helpful to Polish prosecutors who are trying to piece together what happened.”
Henry Schuelke, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who represents Mitchell and Jessen, told the Associated Press that he was aware of the recent legal filing but declined to comment.
While Zubaydah, originally of Pakistan, was first thought to be one of the top leaders of al-Qaida, a U.S. Senate report later showed that he had nothing to do with 9/11 or al-Qaida, court records state.
However, the U.S. Government, which has until June 30 to decide whether or not to intervene in the case, has no plans to release Zubaydah, Klein said. Former President Barack Obama greatly reduced the number of enemy combatants held at Guantanamo, but U.S. officials continue to hold several in custody.
“The papers that I think are public indicate the government intends to hold (Zubaydah) for the rest of his natural life without a charge so far,” said Klein, who has been working with longtime Zubaydah attorney Joe Margulies, a law professor at Cornell.
The information they are seeking has been gathered over the past two years in a civil suit filed by the ACLU on behalf of three men, Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud and the late Gul Rahmam. The three were tortured. The actions in question were directed, and sometimes carried out, by Jessen and Mitchell, the suit alleges.
That civil trial is currently set to begin Sept. 5 in Spokane.
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