US military officials said Thursday they released and sent to Belize a onetime al-Qaeda courier who had completed his sentence. The transfer of Majid Khan ended an imprisonment that included torture at clandestine CIA sites and 16 years at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Khan, a Pakistani citizen who grew up outside Baltimore, wound up in the Central American nation under a Biden administration agreement with that government. Khan's lawyers said he should have already been freed under a pretrial agreement. Khan, who is in his early 40s, said in a statement through his legal team that he deeply regretted his period of working with al-Qaeda in his early 20s. That included working as a courier and taking part in planning several plots that were never carried out, the AP reports.
"I promise all of you, especially the people of Belize that I will be a productive, law-abiding member of society," the statement said. Before arriving at the military prison on the US base in Cuba in 2006, Khan spent some three years at so-called CIA black sites overseas. The CIA used the clandestine locations after al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks against the US. Khan's treatment was detailed in a Senate Intelligence Committee report released in 2014 that accused the CIA of abusing al-Qaeda prisoners far beyond its legal boundaries and of giving the public false accounts of useful interrogations. Thirty-four detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon said.
His treatment included being suspended from a ceiling beam for long periods of time, doused with ice water to deprive him of sleep for days, and subjected to beatings, water torture, forced enemas, sexual assault, and starvation, Khan told a military courtroom as it considered his sentence in a military-run war crimes trial. Khan pleaded guilty before a US military commission in 2012. He was sentenced in 2021 to 26 years, though a pretrial agreement required a Pentagon legal official to cut that to no more than more than 11 years because of his cooperation with US authorities. Khan's team said he should have been released last February as part of that deal.
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