Guantanamo 'high value' prisoner released to Belize - RTHK
Temperature Humidity
News Archive Can search within past 12 months

Guantanamo 'high value' prisoner released to Belize

2023-02-03 HKT 03:36
Share this story facebook
  • Majid Khan was tortured for years after admitting to what he had done. Photo: AP
    Majid Khan was tortured for years after admitting to what he had done. Photo: AP
A Pakistani who was tortured by the CIA and held in the Guantanamo Bay prison for 16 years after admitting to helping Al Qaeda was released to Belize, the US military announced on Thursday.

Majid Khan, captured by US authorities in 2003 and interrogated by US intelligence for three years before being sent to Guantanamo, admitted in a 2012 plea deal to joining a plot to assassinate Pakistan's president and acting as a money courier for an Indonesia hotel bombing plot.

But, as one of the US "high value" prisoners captured in the wake of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on the United States, Khan, now 42, was sentenced only two years ago.

He was officially given 26 years in prison but was promised release in 2022 based on his original plea deal.

In his sentencing hearing Khan became the first of the "high value" prisoners to testify to the US military court about being tortured.

He told the court of being held for days partially suspended by chains without food or clothing, and of being repeatedly beaten and raped by CIA interrogators.

Khan said he admitted early on to what he had done, but the abuse continued for years.

"The more I cooperated and told them, the more I was tortured," he said.

The Pentagon said Khan had honoured his cooperation agreement and was credited in a sentence reduction, and that Belize, a country in Central America, had agreed to accept him.

"I have been given a second chance in life and I intend to make the most of it," Khan said in a statement released by his attorneys.

"I deeply regret the things that I did many years ago, and I have taken responsibility and tried to make up for them," he said.

He said that in Belize he hopes to open a restaurant or food truck.

"I am a great cook and would love to introduce everyone in my new country to Pakistani food," he said.

Wells Dixon, an attorney at the Centre for Constitutional Rights who has represented Khan since 2006, said he was "thrilled" by the release.

"Majid's transfer is the culmination of decades-long litigation and advocacy by the Centre for Constitutional Rights to challenge the worst abuses of the 'war on terror' and close the Guantanamo Bay prison," he said in a statement. (AFP)