Lawyers for alleged al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla have asked a Florida judge to dismiss the terrorism case against him, saying he was tortured and force-fed psychedelic drugs while held at a U.S. military brig for more than 3-1/2 years.
“The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and ultimately, the loss of will to live,” Padilla’s attorney’s said in the motion for dismissal filed in Miami federal court earlier this month.
“Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla,” his lawyers said. “Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.”
Presiding U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke Monday gave the U.S. attorney’s office until Nov. 14 by to respond to Padilla’s allegations, according to an order released by the court.
Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in May 2002, was initially accused of plotting to set off a radioactive “dirty bomb.”
He was held in a brig at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, South Carolina for three years and seven months, without charge, before being abruptly transferred to a federal lock-up in Miami and brought into the official legal system.
While in the brig, Padilla was “tortured by the United States government without cause or justification,” his lawyers said, adding that his treatment was “shocking to even the most hardened conscience.”
Sleep deprivation, shackling
The forms of torture included isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, exposure to extremely cold temperatures and shackling in “stress positions” for hours at a time, they said.
Human rights advocates have made similar allegations on behalf of suspects held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Vice President Dick Cheney last week fended off allegations he had endorsed an interrogation technique called “waterboarding” when he told a radio station that a “dunk in water” might be useful in interviewing terrorists.
But the allegation that Padilla was forced to consume mind altering drugs — reminiscent of CIA-financed mind-control experiments in the late 1950s — appeared to be one of the first such accusations in connection with Washington’s war on terrorism.
Padilla and two codefendants are scheduled to go on trial in January on charges of conspiracy and aiding terrorists abroad.
The Bush administration dropped an “enemy combatant” designation against Padilla last year, charging him instead with being part of a North American support cell for global Islamic extremism.
The charges against Padilla, a convert to Islam whom prosecutors said attended an al-Qaida training camp, were added to an existing case against four other men charged in Florida.
Two of them, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, are in custody and are scheduled to be tried with Padilla, although their attorneys have asked for separate trials.
If convicted on all the charges, they could face life in prison.