A British man who was handed over to the CIA under the suspicion of being an Islamist terrorist says he was severely tortured by collaborators of the intelligence agency and forced to sign a confession.
Mahdi Hashi, a 23-year-old from London with a Somali background, was stripped of his British citizenship last year for being a suspected terrorist. After disappearing from England and spending months in a prison in the African country of Djibouti, he has turned up in a New York City courtroom, charged with terrorism offenses, the Daily Mail reports.
The young man told his British lawyers that he was severely abused and tortured while imprisoned in Africa, where CIA interrogators questioned him between the months of August and November. Although secret police in Djibouti were responsible for much of the torture, he says they worked in collaboration with US interrogators from the CIA and FBI.
Hashi says that Djibouti interrogators stripped him down to his underwear and threatened him with rape and sexual abuse while he was blindfolded, threatened to beat and electrocute him, and forced him to watch the torture that other prisoners endured.
Prisoners endured “beatings, being sexually abused, being pinned down naked and their testicles beaten,” Hashi told his lawyers.
At one point during his detention, Hashi was forced to watch a Swedish detainee horrifically tortured, which interrogators said would happen to him if he didn’t comply.
“They beat the soles of his feet, poured cold water on him and said they would electrocute him. There was screaming all around me and it was pretty horrific,” Hashi said.
The young man says American interrogators treated him better, but still forced him to sign a confession and a disclaimer waiving his right to silence and ignored his pleas to relay information about his detention and torture to British authorities. Because of their refusal to let the UK know about his whereabouts, the man remained ‘missing’ for four months, leaving his family in the dark about what happened to him.
After spending four months in an African prison and being forced to confess, Hashi was flown to the US, where he must now stand trial on charges of terrorism. His family discovered his whereabouts just before Christmas.
The US claims Hashi was involved in weapons and explosive training with the terrorist group al-Shabaab and was “deployed in combat operations to support military action in Somalia”. He currently faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Even though American interrogators were not directly involved in Hashi’s torture, they collaborated with the perpetrators and relied on information that was acquired via torture. If they did indeed force Hashi into confessing, then their actions raise further questions about the veracity of other claims they have made about suspected terrorists.
Hashi’s lawyers, Faisal Saifee and Saghir Hussain, believe that despite CIA claims that torture is no longer a method to procure information, interrogators continue to exploit such techniques by relying on others to do the dirty work – in this case, the secret police in Djibouti.
“These revelations will cast serious doubts on the credibility of the evidence that is being used against Mahdi,” Hussain said. “The prosecuting authorities in the US should be compelled by the trial judge to explain the exact circumstances in which this evidence was gathered.”