Lithuania pays Guantanamo ‘forever prisoner’ Abu Zubaydah over CIA torture
Abu Zubaydah has been held incommunicado, at the insistence of the CIA as part of its efforts to prevent publicizing details of his torture.
Lithuania has paid more than $110,000 to Abu Zubaydah, the "forever prisoner" at Guantánamo, in compensation for allowing the CIA to hold him at a secret site outside Vilnius where he was tortured.
The payment of €100,000 ($113,500) comes more than three years after the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Lithuanian government to pay compensation for violating European laws prohibiting the use of torture.
This represents a significant shift in the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, who has been held without charge by the US for more than 20 years.
Six months after 9/11, Abu Zubaydah was apprehended in Pakistan. The CIA and Bush administration lawyers attempted to justify his torture by claiming he was a senior figure in Al-Qaeda. However, it was later revealed that he was not a member of the organization and he was never charged with involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
For much of the time since his arrest, Abu Zubaydah has been held incommunicado, at the insistence of the CIA as part of its efforts to prevent publicizing details of his torture.
Abu Zubaydah's lawyers believe it is highly unlikely that Lithuania would have paid the compensation without Washington's approval.
“The situation is a lot less incommunicado when you pay €100,000 to someone and the whole world knows about it,” Mark Denbeaux, one of Abu Zubaydah’s legal team based in the US, told the Guardian.
How the US treats prisoners
The payment from Lithuania comes just days before the 20th anniversary of the military prison at Guantanamo, which received its first detainees on January 11, 2002. Other signs of a shift in attitude toward Abu Zubaydah and the torture inflicted on him by CIA agents and contractors, including sensory and sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, loud noise, and harsh light, have emerged in recent months
In Abu Zubaydah's case against Lithuania, which was led on the European side by his lawyer Helen Duffy, the European Court of Human Rights learned that the plaintiff was held at a CIA black site in that country from February 2005 to March 2006. Violet, the codename for the location, was on the outskirts of Vilnius.
Abu Zubaydah was subjected to the most heinous forms of torture while also being held at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002. Two psychologists under contract to the CIA devised an entire torture program for the prisoner, euphemistically referred to as "enhanced interrogation techniques."
In August 2002, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded (a type of controlled drowning) at least 83 times, as well as placed in a coffin-sized box for days on end.
The money transferred by Lithuania is now in a bank account. Zubaydah is unable to receive the sum given his detention in Guantánamo and because his assets have been frozen by the US treasury.