Libyan former CIA detainees say US torture inquiry never interviewed them

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As the US government prepares to defend its record on torture before a United Nations panel, five Libyan men once held without charge by the CIA say the main criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse never even interviewed them.

The Libyans’ accusation reopens controversy over the 2012 pre-election decision by the prosecutor in the case not to bring charges against anyone involved in CIA abuse – an episode the US State Department has held up as an example of its diligence in complying with international torture obligations.

On Wednesday, a United Nations committee in Geneva is scheduled to hear a US delegation outline recent measures Washington has taken to combat torture. It will be the first update the US has provided to the committee since 2006, when the CIA still operated its off-the-books “black site” prisons. Human rights campaigners who have seen the Obama administration repeatedly decline to deliver justice for US torture victims consider it a belated chance at ending what they consider to be impunity.

Among the committee’s requested submissions, issued in 2010, is a description of steps the US has taken to ensure torture claims against it are “promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigated”. The committee specifically asked for a status update about the Justice Department’s since-concluded torture inquiry.

That high-profile inquiry, conducted by assistant US attorney John Durham, wrapped in 2012 without bringing criminal charges against anyone involved in the deaths of two detainees in CIA custody. That decision, heralding the end of federal investigations for post-9/11 detainee abuse, was preceded by Durham’s 2011 announcement that he would not proceed past a “preliminary review” for 99 out of 101 cases of suspected CIA torture.

The State Department, in a 2013 written submission to the UN committee, referred to Durham’s team as “experienced professionals” that found the “admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But the Libyans say that neither Durham nor his staff “ever sought or requested our testimony”.

The five – Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed al-Shoroeiya, Khalid al-Sharif, Majid Mokhtar Sasy al-Maghrebi, Saleh Hadiyah Abu Abdullah Di’iki and Mustafa Jawda al-Mehdi – wrote to committee..

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