Psychologists who designed CIA torture programme agree to historic settlement with victims

New York, 17 August 2017: In a landmark case, SRT grantee the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has announced a settlement in its lawsuit against the two psychologists who designed and implemented the agency’s torture programme. A jury trial was due to begin on 5 September.

The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the family of Gul Rahman, who froze to death in a secret CIA prison. The three men were tortured and experimented on using methods developed by the CIA-contracted psychologists, James Mitchell and John ‘Bruce’ Jessen. In addition to torturing prisoners themselves, Mitchell and Jessen trained other CIA personnel in their methods. In 2005, they founded a company that the CIA contracted with to run its entire torture programme, including supplying interrogators for the agency’s secret ‘black site’ prisons. The government paid the company $81 million over several years.

The plaintiffs sued Mitchell and Jessen in October 2015 under the Alien Tort Statute – which allows federal lawsuits for gross human rights violations – for their commission of torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes.

ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said, ‘This is a historic victory for our clients and the rule of law. This outcome shows that there are consequences for torture and that survivors can and will hold those responsible for torture accountable. It is a clear warning for anyone who thinks they can torture with impunity.’

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security project, said, ‘Our clients’ groundbreaking case has changed the legal landscape. It showed that the courts are fully capable of handling lawsuits involving abuses committed in the name of national security’.

The full terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.

Full story from the ACLU’s website:

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