Lithuania and Romania violated the rights of two terror suspects by helping the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to torture them in “secret rendition,” the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday.
The European judges have ruled in two separate cases filed by victims Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn — also known as Abu Zubaydah — and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
The two were captured by the US after the 9/11 attacks and they are currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
The top European Court said both countries — Lithuania and Romania — had assisted US’s ill-treatment of the two suspects at the so-called “black sites” controlled by the CIA from 2004 to 2006 on their territories, exposing them to “a foreseeable serious risk of further ill-treatment”.
The ECHR ruling said Romania hosted a CIA prison in 2003-2005, where Abd al-Nashiri was subjected to “an extremely harsh detention regime” and suffered “inhuman treatment… which Romania had enabled by co-operating with the CIA”.
The same verdict was issued against Lithuania, concerning Abu Zubaydah. The CIA operated a prison in Lithuania in 2005-2006.
Both applicants complained that the respondent countries enabled the CIA to detain them secretly on their territory, allowing the CIA to subject them to torture, various other forms of mental and physical abuse, incommunicado detention, and the lack of a possibility to contact their families or the outside world.
They also alleged that the two countries allowed them to be transported to other CIA-run secret detention sites, exposing them to years of further similar treatment.
Lastly, they complained of the lack of a prompt and thorough investigation into their allegations.
Abu Zubaydah, a stateless Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia, is thought to have been al Qaeda’s chief recruiter in the 1990s, and later became a key organizer, linking Osama Bin Laden to other al Qaeda cells.
Saudi-born Abd al-Nashiri led al Qaeda’s operations in the Gulf region, according to US intelligence.
The judges said they took their decision based on CIA documents, according to which terror suspects were subjected to blindfolding or hooding, solitary confinement, the continuous use of leg shackles, and excessive exposure to noise and light.
The court ordered Romania and Lithuania to pay Al Nashiri 100,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damages.
It also ordered Lithuania to pay Abu Zubaydah 100,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 30,000 in respect of costs and expenses.