Court Should Suppress Evidence Obtained Through Torture In Jawad Habeas Case, Says ACLU

July 1, 2009

Government Continues To Rely On Evidence Barred From Military Commissions Trial Of Guantánamo Detainee

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal court to suppress all evidence obtained through torture and other coercion in the habeas corpus case challenging the unlawful detention of Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad. The judge in Jawad's military commission proceedings previously suppressed statements made by Jawad to Afghan and U.S. officials following his arrest, finding that they were the product of torture. However, the government continues to rely on those same statements in Jawad's habeas corpus challenge.

"Since his arrest in 2002, Mr. Jawad has been subjected to repeated torture and other mistreatment and to a systematic program of harsh and highly coercive interrogations designed to break him physically and mentally," said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "The statements wrung from Mr. Jawad in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo during more than 50 interrogations do not remotely meet the standard for admissibility in a court of law." 

Following his arrest for allegedly throwing a grenade at U.S. soldiers, Jawad was taken to an Afghan police station where he was coerced into signing a confession written in Farsi, a language Jawad could not speak, much less read or write. In fact, Jawad was functionally illiterate even in his native language of Pashto. 

Once transferred to U.S. custody, Jawad was illegally rendered to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he was interrogated at least 11 times and subjected to beatings, forced into painful "stress positions," deprived of sleep, forcibly hooded, placed in isolation, pushed down stairs, chained to a wall for prolonged periods and subjected to threats of death. The U.S. later transported Jawad to Guantánamo, where he was subjected to the notorious "frequent flyer" sleep deprivation program as well as the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) interrogation methods recently denounced in a Senate Armed Services Committee Report. Eventually, Jawad tried to commit suicide in his cell by slamming his head repeatedly against the wall. 

The Afghan government recently sent a letter to the U.S. government demanding Jawad's return and suggesting he was as young as 12 when he was captured in Afghanistan and illegally rendered from that country almost seven years ago.
 
"That Mr. Jawad was a juvenile – perhaps as young as 12 – when his abuse began makes the coercive nature of his interrogations all the more barbaric and the government's continued reliance on his statements all the more egregious," said Hafetz.

The ACLU today filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking the judge to suppress all evidence obtained through torture and other coercion in Jawad's habeas case.

Attorneys on Jawad's habeas case are Hafetz, Arthur Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area and U.S. Air Force Major David J. R. Frakt.

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the former lead prosecutor in Jawad's military commission case, left the military commissions because he did not believe he could ethically proceed with the case. His declaration in support of the ACLU's position is online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/detention/38370lgl20090112.html

More about Jawad's case is available online at: www.aclu.org/jawad

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