U.S. can withhold Guantanamo detainee images

NEW YORK — The U.S. government can withhold photographs and videotapes of a Guantanamo Bay detainee identified as the would-be 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan agreed with the government that images of Mohammed al-Qahtani, if made public, “could logically and plausibly be used by anti-American extremists as propaganda to recruit members and incite violence against American interests at home and abroad.”

Authorities have said al-Qahtani narrowly missed being one of the hijackers when he was denied entry into the U.S. at an Orlando, Florida, airport a month before the attacks. He was captured by Pakistani forces in December 2001 and taken to Guantanamo, where he remains.

The Center for Constitutional Rights sued the departments of Defense and Justice and the CIA in 2012, saying the release of videotapes and photographs of his interrogation and confinement would serve the public interest. The group has accused FBI and military personnel of subjecting al-Qahtani to isolation and aggressive interrogation techniques in 2002, including the use of a snarling dog, stripping him naked in the presence of a woman and repeatedly pouring water on his head.

The U.S. government acknowledged possessing 53 videotapes depicting al-Qahtani in his cell, two videotapes showing intelligence briefings, another videotape showing him being extracted from his cell and six photos of him.

Last year, a federal judge who reviewed the material ruled that it could be kept secret because of national security.

The three-judge appeals panel agreed, but it stressed that its decision did not exempt the government from disclosing images of detainees. It said al-Qahtani’s case was an exception because of his standing as a high-profile al-Qaida operative and by an admission from U.S. officials that his treatment fit the legal definition of torture — factors that could be exploited for propaganda purposes.

Larry Lustberg, an attorney who argued the case for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said it was considering further legal options.

“In effect, the court has embraced a rule that allows the government to use its own human rights abuses as a justification for concealing evidence of that misconduct from the public,” he said in a statement.

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read