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U.S. transfers Pakistani Guantanamo Bay detainee to Belize


The United States flag flies inside of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Camp VI at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Majid Khan, a Pakistani man who has disclosed how he was tortured by the Central Intelligence Agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, has been transferred from the Guantanamo Bay U.S. detention facility in Cuba to Belize, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Khan, 42, admitted in 2012 to conspiring with members of the al Qaeda Islamist militant organization responsible for the 2001 attacks to commit murder as well as providing material support for terrorism and spying and had been serving as a government witness since, according to U.S. officials.

He was captured in Pakistan and previously held at an unidentified CIA “black site” from 2003 to 2006.

Thirty-four detainees – down from a peak population of 800 – remain at the Guantanamo Bay facility, with 20 already eligible for transfer, according to U.S. officials.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin notified U.S. lawmakers about his intent to transfer Khan last year, the Pentagon said in a statement.

“The United States appreciates the willingness of the government of Belize and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility,” the Pentagon added.

In a 39-page statement that Khan read aloud to a military sentencing commission in 2021, he described being hung from a beam by his hands for days, naked except for a hood over his head at the CIA site. Guards would “throw ice water on my naked body every hour or two and placed a fan to blow directly on me,” Khan said.

Khan told of being beaten, subjected to the simulated drowning technique called waterboarding and raped anally by objects. He also said he had been deprived of sleep and food, kept isolated and shackled in a cell with music blaring 24 hours a day. This went on for three years, from the time of his arrest in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2003 until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Khan said.

The detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base was opened under Republican President George W. Bush in 2002. President Barack Obama, a Democrat who succeeded Bush, whittled down the number, but his effort to close the prison was stymied largely by Republican opposition in Congress.