British attorney Clive Stafford Smith, who represented the Rabbani brothers for 15 of the 20 years that they were held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, said his client was subjected to 62 different kinds of torture during the period.
Abdul and Mohammed Ahmed Rabbani were arrested in Pakistan in September 2002. They spent the next two years at US detention centres and black sites in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
The brothers were repatriated on Friday.
“I was having lunch at the Rabbanis residence the other day. When a plane passed overhead, Ahmed became scared as he had rendition flashbacks,” he said of the state of the two brothers. “They both are undergoing assessment by a team of psychologists and are in no state to make a statement.”
He said that he had catalogued a 170-page document detailing the different types of torture – including “strappado” that was used by Spanish inquisitors – that Ahmed Rabbani and his brother had been subjected to. “Based on my interviews, Ahmed was subjected to 62 different types of torture.”
It included visual, sensory and auditory overload. They played Eminem’s ‘White America’ 5,337 times to torture Rabbani, said Smith.
He said even though the brothers were cleared for release, a contingent of 30 US forces escorted them to Pakistan and kept them blindfolded during the flight. “The FIA team at the airport gave him a warm welcome for which we are grateful,” said the attorney.
To a question about whether they planned to seek damages for the 20 years they were kept in custody, he said that it was impossible to get an apology from the US and neither would they pay repatriations. “I apologise to you on behalf of the US,” he said adding that he was a dual citizen of the US and UK.
He added that while they wouldn’t be directly able to sue the American government, they would file a case against individuals responsible for their detention – at least in the case of Saifullah Paracha, another former detainee at the US prison site.
The lawyer added that at the time of Rabbani’s arrest, his wife was pregnant. “He did not know that he had son. He met him for the first time in Islamabad on Friday and it was a very emotional reunion.”
Dr Aafia case
The lawyer was accompanied by Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, the sister of Pakistani national Dr Aafia Siddiqui who is serving an 86-year sentence. She was convicted in Manhattan in 2010 on charges that she sought to shoot US military officers while being detained in Afghanistan two years earlier.
Dr Fowzia said that Smith had taken up the Dr Aafia case and would be battling for her return to Pakistan. She said Smith recently met Aafia at the medical facility in Texas, which is actually a “maximum-security prison”.
She said they have not had access to Aafia for years, and accused the US government of depriving her of fundamental rights. She also criticized the government over its failure to repatriate a citizen.