Ahmed was wrongly detained and tortured in a foreign prison in a US proxy detention case, held without charges for 2 years, and then convicted in a US court with the only evidence a tortured & fabricated confession tape. He was sentenced to life in solitary confinement even though his so called “conspiracies” in the words of judge Gerald Bruce Lee “did not result in a single actual victim.” This April, Ahmed’s lawyers are filing a habeas corpus petition. Help us reverse the dangerous precedent that this case set and free Ahmed.
- In 2003, Ahmed–who was only 22 at the time–was suddenly arrested in Saudi Arabia while he was taking a final exam.
- He was then detained there without charges and without access to an attorney for 20 months.
- During that time, both the U.S government and the Saudi government refused to claim responsibility, each claiming to have no interest in him (in both written and/or recorded statements.)
- Aware of the torture techniques that the Saudi government employs on its prisoners and frantic with worry for his safety, his parents filed a habeas petition to have Ahmed brought back to the U.S as he is an American citizen.
- The case received worldwide attention and the outrage of many civil and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, and World Organization for Human Rights.
- The judge ruled that Ahmed was in U.S custody and that the U.S had to provide the court with evidence of their activities around Ahmed’s arrest, detention, and interrogation.
- Two months later, flustered with the court’s decision, the U.S government decided to bring him back and indict him with terrorism related charges. The main evidence was a confession tape that was solicited through the use of torture.
- Ahmed entered a not guilty plea.
- Although many of his constitutional rights were violated during the trial, Ahmed was convicted.
- His lawyers are now filing a habeas corpus petition. This is our last chance to reverse this precedent and free an innocent man
On June 8, 2003, Ahmed Abu Ali was arrested by Saudi authorities while taking a final exam at the Islamic University of Medina. His family’s home was consequently raided by the FBI a week later on June 16, 2003. Ahmed was held in Al Hair prison for approximately 20 months by the Saudi government without charges or access to an attorney, and given the paucity of information coming out of Saudi Arabia about the case, many human rights organizations speculated that Abu Ali’s situation was actually a case of extraordinary rendition and that he might be subject to torture. That year, Gordon Kromberg, a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia, was asked by a defense lawyer whether Abu Ali would be brought to the United States to face charges. Kromberg responded: “He’s no good for us here. He has no fingernails left,” according to an affidavit filed in court by the lawyer, Salim Ali.
In response to the detention by the Saudi government, Abu Ali’s family, represented by Morton Sklar and the World Organization for Human Rights, filed a civil action against the U.S. government in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In the suit, they asked the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus to force the United States government to take action to get Abu Ali returned to the US. The government challenged the case, claiming that the court did not have jurisdiction either to interfere with US foreign policy (an executive function), or to force the Saudi government to release Abu Ali.
Listen to NPR report on the government’s defense of his arrest (pre-indictment) using entirely secret evidence.
After being held for nearly two years in Saudi Arabia without any charges, Ahmed was transferred to the custody of the United States and charged with nine counts of conspiracy and other terrorism-related charges with a penalty of a minimum of twenty years and a maximum of life in prison. Saudi mabahith (intelligence) officers arrested him at the behest of US officials and tortured him into falsely confessing to conspiring to assassinate President Bush among other things. The judge refused to suppress the confession that was extracted under torture and barred the defense expert wit-nesses from testifying that Mr. Abu-Ali showed signs of torture and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a re-sult. The judge also allowed the government to present its own expert witnesses and to present the testimony of the Saudi guards, who had tortured Ahmed. They testified that they never tortured Mr. Abu-Ali and that Saudi Arabia does not use torture ( Read Saudi’s background on human rights that was written by our very own U.S State Department ). The jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts after deliberating for only two days. The district judge sentenced Ahmed Abu-Ali to 30 years in prison, noting his outstanding character and demeanor as well as the tremendous amount of support he has in the community.
Following his sentencing, Ahmed was transferred to the Colorado supermax prison, where he is currently held in solitary confinement. He is under lockdown for 23 hours a day and is not allowed any contact with the outside world except for limited correspondence with his family and attorney.
Ahmed appealed his case to the Fourth Circuit, but his conviction was upheld. The government cross-appealed to increase the sentence, and the appellate court reversed the judge’s sentence, urging him to increase it to life in prison. Ahmed then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court, which was denied. On July 27, 2009, the District Court in Alexandria, VA resentenced Ahmed to life in prison. Ahmed Abu-Ali is now planning to file a writ of habeas corpus to challenge his detention.