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U.S. Is Urgently Looking for a Country to Resettle a Qaeda Informant


GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — U.S. diplomats have asked 11 countries in the event that they could be willing to soak up a former courier for Al Qaeda who was tortured by the C.I.A. and have become a government informant, Justice Department lawyers said in a court filing on Tuesday.

The lawyers said that finding a nation to resettle the prisoner, Majid Khan, 42, together with his wife and daughter was a priority for the Biden administration at a time when prosecutors are discussing possible plea agreements with other prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

Mr. Khan, a U.S.-educated Pakistani citizen, gained attention last yr as the primary former prisoner of the C.I.A.’s black site prison network to publicly describe his torture, between 2003 and 2006, by U.S. agents. A U.S. military jury condemned his treatment as “a stain on the moral fiber of America.”

Justice Department lawyers described the Biden administration’s efforts to seek out a spot for him in a filing that urged Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court in Washington to essentially take no motion for now on Mr. Khan’s petition of habeas corpus.

“The federal government is actively — and urgently — working to facilitate petitioner’s transfer,” the lawyers wrote in a 37-page filing that didn’t clarify how lots of the 11 countries were still considering the request.

Mr. Khan pleaded guilty to terrorism-related offenses in 2012. His lawyers have described him as isolated in the identical detention setting through which he served his sentence, which ended on March 1.

In a filing on July 25, they asked the judge to order his release into the USA or on the U.S. Navy base beyond the prison zone, which functions like a small American town of 6,000 residents.

In the choice, they said, he ought to be transferred to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, which has a small facility on the bottom that houses Cubans and other Caribbean residents whose cases are being reviewed for possible third-country asylum.

Mr. Khan has relations in suburban Baltimore, where he attended highschool within the Nineteen Nineties. But U.S. law forbids the discharge of Guantánamo detainees into the USA.

Justice Department lawyers also dismissed the suggestion of releasing him on the bottom.

But his lawyers say he cannot return to Pakistan, where his wife and daughter live, because he fears persecution there as a former Qaeda member who offered testimony against other Guantánamo prisoners.

Col. Matthew Jemmott of the Army, the warden of the Pentagon prison, disputed Mr. Khan’s description of his detention as essentially solitary confinement.

Mr. Khan socializes with F.B.I. agents, prison guards, military lawyers and top prison officials during “religious feasts, social meetings and meetings regarding detention-related issues,” Colonel Jemmott said in an affidavit.

He also said that Mr. Khan was entitled to quarterly calls with family through a jail program called the Detainee Interactive Call Experience, but that he had declined his last two offers. DICE, because the colonel called it, has been described in court as stop-and-go, intelligence-monitored conversations. A security officer listens to what the prisoner desires to say on the decision and decides on the spot whether to release the audio to the member of the family. The relative’s response can be on a censored delay.

Justice Department lawyers said of their filing that finding a nation to securely resettle Mr. Khan “is in the federal government’s national security interests to encourage cooperation by individuals accused of acts of terrorism or other offenses triable by military commissions.”

Of the 36 prisoners at Guantánamo, two — including Mr. Khan — have been convicted and 10 others are in pretrial proceedings.

Prosecutors are in plea negotiations with the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks. It isn’t known if any of the defendants are looking for sentences that may lead to resettlement in third countries or imprisonment abroad.

But a disabled Iraqi prisoner recently offered a guilty plea in exchange for transfer inside two years to a nation that may provide him medical treatment.

Justice Department lawyers said Mr. Khan’s detention was lawful because “hostilities with Al Qaeda remain ongoing.” They cited the drone strike by the C.I.A. last month that killed the movement’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, in Kabul, Afghanistan, as proof that the war had not ended.

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