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Khan v. Bush / Khan v. Gates

Synopsis

CCR’s representation of Majid Khan involves two cases: Khan v. Bush is a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of former Baltimore, MD resident and U.S. asylum-holder, Majid Khan, who was transferred from three-years in secret C.I.A. detention to the custody of military officials in Guantanamo. CCR has also filed another case on Majid’s behalf, Khan v. Gates, a petition for review under the Detainee Treatment Act filed in the Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia.

Status

Description

Khan v. Bush is a habeas corpus petition filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Majid Khan, one of the 14 “ghost detainees” President Bush transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006. Filed hours before the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), the petition challenges the constitutionality of denying the right of habeas corpus to a long-term resident and asylee-holder in the United States. Mr. Khan was kidnapped while visiting relatives in Pakistan, imprisoned in secret CIA detention for three-and-a-half years and subjected to "alternative interrogation methods" that amount to torture. He has never been formally charged with a crime.

Majid Khan immigrated with his family to the United States in 1996. They settled in Baltimore, where he attended Owings Mills High School, graduating in 1999. Majid was granted legal asylum in the U.S. in 1998 and subsequently worked for the State of Maryland. In 2002, he went to Pakistan to get married and then came home to the United States to continue working. Shortly after returning to his wife in Pakistan, Majid and other relatives were kidnapped from their residence.

In the middle of the night, on March 5, 2003, individuals identified as Pakistan security officials pounded on the door of the home of Majid's brother in Karachi, and rushed into the flat. The family members at home included Majid, his brother, his brother's wife and their month-old daughter. As the family was trying to wake up, the officials hooded and bound them before placing them in a vehicle. They were all taken to an unknown location.

Majid's sister-in-law and infant niece were imprisoned for about a week. Pakistan officials imprisoned his brother for approximately one month. When Majid's brother was released, officials threatened him not to make any public statements or inquire after Majid. As a result of the threats, Majid's family in Baltimore and Karachi waited anxiously and fearfully for his return. He was never released or heard from again.

Back home in the U.S., Majid’s family cooperated with U.S. authorities in every way they could; Majid's older brother, a U.S. citizen, was interviewed hundreds of times by the FBI and he asked repeatedly about Majid's whereabouts. Nonetheless, Majid's family did not learn he was in U.S. custody or even that he was alive until a news reporter knocked on their door and told them President Bush announced Majid's name in a speech before the nation on September 6, 2006.

Majid now has a young daughter he hasn't seen.

Timeline

On September 29, 2006, CCR filed a habeas corpus petition on Mr. Khan’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It was filed just days before the passage of the MCA.

On October 26, 2006, the government objected to Majid meeting with CCR attorney because of the “unique circumstances” of his case. The government argued that Majid “may have come into possession” of highly classified information while in secret C.I.A. detention and could not, under the current rules for counsel meetings, have any communications with his lawyers. The government was concerned about keeping hidden the locations of C.I.A. secret detention facilities and the C.I.A.’s “aggressive” interrogation methods.

On November 3, 2006, CCR filed a response brief to the government’s efforts to deny CCR attorneys access to Majid. The brief argues that the Bush administration’s effort to deny Mr. Khan access to counsel “ignores the Court’s historical function under Article III of the Constitution to exercise its independent judgment.” CCR also argued that the court had adequate tools to keep sensitive classified information from being disclosed and that, in this case, the government is impermissibly using it classification authority to conceal illegal conduct or acts that will embarrass the United States.

On April 16, 2007, CCR released written testimony from Majid’s father Ali Khan that includes descriptions of the torture and abuse of Majid by U.S. personnel in the early days of his detention in Pakistan.

On May 15, 2007, the U.S. government released Majid’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) transcript. The hearing occurred on April 15, 2007. Majid’s CSRT transcript contains statements by witnesses refuting much of the unsupported government allegations presented against Majid and written and oral statements detailing his torture while imprisoned at the CIA prison and at Guantanamo. In it, he continued to demand to see his attorneys and proclaim his innocence, stating that statements he made under torture while imprisoned by the CIA are “definitely not true.” Majid stated that he had “nothing to hide” and, in addition to refuting all of the government’s unclassified allegations, Majid twice volunteered to take a lie detector test. Several portions of the transcript where Majid talks about torture were redacted.

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