1. Did Ahmed really do something?
No. This is something that everyone agrees on, including the judge who sentenced him to life in solitary confinement, Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, who said that Ahmed’s so called conspiracies “did not result in one single actual victim.” Furthermore, there are no actual “actions” at all; Ahmed was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for “conspiracy,” which is a controversial crime among legal scholars, and the evidence used to support these conspiracy charges was based on a coerced, tortured confession. Read Ahmed’s testimony and two torture expert reports here
2. What kind of evidence did they find to link him?
The evidence for the nine counts of conspiracy related charges all come from the confession video, recorded in Saudi Arabia after weeks of being deprived of sleep, being shackled in uncomfortable positions for hours of a time, and long sessions of whipping. Other evidence is classified as “secret” and was not shared with Ahmed, his lawyers, or the public due to “national security concerns.” Even the co-conspirators and witnesses in this case are unnamed, and did not testify in person at court. Rather these agents, the Saudi Intelligence, testified via teleconference with their images concealed, and their names anonymous, again in the name of national security.
3. Why was it wrong?
Research shows that under torture, one will say anything to make it end. Also, it is illegal for witnesses not to appear in court, and it is illegal to conceal evidence from the accused.
4. What was his opinion on things in his own words (via a diary or something)?
Since he was first arrested, even before his trial, Ahmed has been held under Special Administrative Measures (SAM), which prohibits him from communicating with anyone outside of sparse and monitored conversations with his immediate family and attorney. Furthermore, under SAM, it is illegal for his family to share anything that he has said or written with anyone. Nevertheless, I can share with you some things that were made public in court documents.
Of his torture, he says “it was the first time I felt extreme pain.” On the confession, he told his lawyer that at the time, he was in so much pain that he just repeated what his interrogators wanted to hear because he believed that as soon as he got to the U.S., they would quickly clear up this case of a mistaken identity, and certainly dismiss the false confession.
5. How has it affected his family?
This plight has left a lasting impact on the whole family. It has been devastating and has literally debilitating. Since June 2003, no one in his family has been able to give Ahmed a hug or talk to him live, except behind glass. They get one (now two) unscheduled 15-minute phone call with him a month. Letters take months to reach him and vice versa. It literally impacted and continues to impact every aspect of their lives: mentally, emotionally, and physically; from getting a job, to getting married.
6. Why should I care?
An unprecedented case, United States v. Abu-Ali presents serious constitutional issues and affects the rights of Americans everywhere. Proxy detention, whereby tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia’s government, hold American citizens without suspicion, let alone evidence, are a serious threat to your rights and liberties. The United States Constitution is threatened every day that an illegal confession used as evidence; everyday that an innocent person is arrested without probable cause; everyday that we allow the government to shred the Constitution. We believe that the Constitution should be upheld, and that innocent people should not be convicted. If you share our beliefs, help spread the word and make a contribution to the Free Ahmed Legal Defense Fund.