(CN) – Romania and Lithuania must pay more than $100,000 to two men who were tortured at CIA black sites that the countries hosted, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday.
Before their transfers to Guantanamo Bay, a prison camp where the pair remain over a decade later, Saudi citizens Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah faced rendition to secret prisons in Europe.
The CIA is believed to have held Al-Nashiri at prison in Romania code-named “Bright Light” between April 12, 2004, until at least Oct. 6, 2005. Abu Zubaydah meanwhile is believed to have been imprisoned at a site code-named “Violet” in Lithuania from Feb. 18, 2005, to March 25, 2006.
Based in Strasbourg, France, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that neither host country made it easy for al-Nashiri and Zubaydah to seek relief.
For years on end, one of the Thursday reports notes, Zubaydah faced “detention conditions specifically designed to isolate and disorientate detainees by transfers to unknown locations, even if he had been allowed to testify before the court, would not be able to say where he was detained.”
“Nor can it be reasonably expected that he will ever, on his own, be able to identify the places in which he was held,” the 317-page report continues.
U.S. prosecutors have walked back allegations that Zubaydah was a high-level leader of al-Qaida, but to date he remains an uncharged detainee at Guantanamo. Al-Nashiri on the other hand is accused of masterminding the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole off the coast of Yemen.
Seventeen American sailors were killed and 39 injured in the attack, but a trial for al-Nashiri remains elusive as Guantanamo Bay’s record of inefficiency and lack of international legitimacy hobble ongoing military commissions.
Because Europe abolished the death penalty, Romania earned another demerit from the rights court on Thursday for its role in handing al-Nashiri over to U.S. authorities so that they can execute him.
“The court has already found that, through the actions and inaction of the Romanian authorities in the context of their complicity in the operation of the CIA HVD Programme on Romania’s territory, the applicant has been exposed to the risk of the death penalty being imposed on him,” the 315-page report on al-Nashiri states. “Even though the proceedings against him before the military commissions are still pending and the outcome of the trial remains uncertain, that risk still continues.”
A 2004 CIA document describes how Nashiri was subjected to waterboarding, put in stress positions, had an unloaded semiautomatic handgun racked near his head, and a power drill revved near him while he was hooded and naked.
The European rights court found that Lithuania’s conduct also violated Zubaydah’s rights to liberty and security, respect for private life and effective remedy.
Zubaydah holds the distinction of being the first man waterboarded after 9/11. Though it has denied Zubaydah release from Guantanamo, the Pentagon has acknowledged for nearly a decade that he never joined al-Qaida, as previously alleged.
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