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Guantanamo: Lithuania pays 'forever prisoner' more than $100,000 over CIA torture

Abu Zubaydah has been detained for over 20 years and was subjected to torture at various CIA black sites
Demonstrators dressed in Guantanamo Bay prisoner uniforms march by Capitol Hill during a 'No War with Iran' rally, on 9 January 2020 (AFP)

Lithuania has paid one of Guantanamo Bay's "forever prisoners" more than $100,000 for allowing the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to hold him at a black site where he was subjected to forms of torture, the Guardian reported.

The newspaper reported on Monday that Abu Zubaydah, whose given name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, cannot receive the funds because he remains in Guantanamo Bay prison and his assets are frozen by the US Treasury.

The Guardian reported that the $113,500 payment (€100,000) comes more than three years after the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Lithuanian government to pay compensation for violating European laws banning the use of torture.

A Palestinian born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Abu Zubaydah was captured in a US-Pakistani raid in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in 2002.

At the time of his capture, the CIA, along with then-President George W Bush, publicly claimed that he was a top-level al-Qaeda leader with direct connections to Osama bin Laden.

But in 2006, the CIA conceded that Abu Zubaydah was never a senior member of al-Qaeda because he was never a member of the militant group, to begin with. Still, he remains in prison. 

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According to a Senate Intelligence Committee report, he was interrogated using techniques that amounted to torture - including being waterboarded 83 times in one month, hung naked from a ceiling and deprived of sleep for 11 straight days.

During his nearly two decades in captivity, Abu Zubaydah has never been charged or tried.

Abu Zubaydah's lawyers told the Guardian that it was unlikely Lithuania would have made the compensation payment without approval from Washington.

"The situation is a lot less incommunicado when you pay €100,000 to someone and the whole world knows about it," said Mark Denbeaux, a lawyer from Abu Zubaydah's legal team based in the US.

The administration of US President Joe Biden said in February that it intended to close the prison, but nearly a year later it remains open with no announced plan for its closure.

And late last month, Biden signed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which bars him from taking steps toward closing the detention facility.

In a statement issued after signing the mammoth $768b defence spending bill, Biden criticised language included in the bill which precludes him from sending detainees to certain countries or transferring them to prisons on US soil.

Since entering office, only one detainee, Abdul Latif Nasser, has been released by the Biden administration.