Attorneys for a detainee at Guantánamo Bay are suing the psychologists who created the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques used in the war on terror, aiming to compel them to provide information to Polish officials who are investigating a former CIA jail in that country.
The lawsuit was filed late last month in federal court in eastern Washington state and was announced Wednesday by the London-based human rights group Reprieve. The suit details what it describes as the torture of Abu Zubaydah, who was held in the CIA black site, or secret interrogation facility, in Stare Kiejkuty, Poland, from Dec. 5, 2002 to Sept. 22, 2003.
Zubaydah, whose real name is Zayn al Abdeen Mohammed al Hussein, is described in official U.S. documents as a “facilitator” for al-Qaida. He has been held at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba since September 2006.
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The lawsuit says James Elmer Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, because of their role in the interrogation program and their presence at the site, have information relevant to the investigation being carried out by the Organized Crimes Division of the Regional Public Prosecutor’s Office in Krakow, Poland. They are investigating whether Polish officials facilitated the existence or operation of the CIA black site.
Henry Schuelke, an attorney in Washington who represents Mitchell and Jessen, told The Associated Press over the phone that he was familiar with the lawsuit, but declined to comment on it.
Mitchell and Jessen ran a Spokane-based company that received $81 million from the CIA to develop methods to extract information that included waterboarding and sleep deprivation. President Barack Obama terminated their contract in 2009. A U.S. Senate investigation in 2014 found that Mitchell and Jessen’s techniques produced no useful intelligence in the war on terror.
U.S. Justice Department officials have filed a statement with the court saying “the proposed subpoenas and categories of information sought in this action raise important and complex questions regarding the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests.”
Consequently, the U.S. government could file a statement of interest in the case by the end of June, or advise that it will not participate in the case, the officials said.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the psychologists in 2015 on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud and the estate of Gul Rahman, who died in custody. The men contend they were tortured using techniques Mitchell and Jessen designed. A trial in that case is set for early September.