USA: Secret and incommunicado detention of Benghazi suspect must stop

The US government must ensure that Ahmed Abu Khattalah, who is being held in secret and incommunicado detention, gets immediate and unrestricted access to a lawyer amid fears that he may be being held or interrogated in inhumane conditions, said Amnesty International today.

Ahmed Abu Khattalah has been charged with alleged participation in an attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi in 2012 in which four US nationals were killed. He was seized by US forces in Libya on 15 June and is currently being held at an undisclosed location, possibly a US naval vessel.

“While Ahmed Abu Khattalah is suspected of a serious crime, that does not mean he has forfeited his right to humane treatment and due process,” said Erika Guevara Rosa, Director of Amnesty International’s Americas Programme.

“In addition to the absence of accountability for torture carried out under the Bush administration, there is still cause for concern about the USA’s treatment today of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

In a similar case last year an abducted Libyan national was allegedly subjected to sleep deprivation during back to back interrogations during the week he was held on a US ship before being brought to the USA.

The murder charges now faced by Ahmed Abu Khattalah are punishable by death in the USA.

Amnesty International is calling on the US government to provide Ahmed Abu Khattalah immediate and ongoing access to legal counsel of his choice, independent medical care and consular assistance, and to ensure that he is treated in full compliance with international human rights law and standards.

Amnesty is also urging the US government not to seek the death penalty against him in any forthcoming trial.