September 17th, 2009 23:04 EST
Pakistani-American Was Tortured Before Deportation
ISLAMABAD: Rose, a 32-year-old American woman in Islamabad, is seeking justice for her Pakistani husband, Hasan, who claims that he was detained and tortured by officials of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before being deported in 2006.
The couple, who have asked that their last names be withheld for security reasons, is currently appealing to the US embassy in Islamabad to review their case so that the family can be repatriated to the US, where Hasan was a legal resident since 2003. They have not filed a lawsuit against Hasan`s detention in the US civilian courts as they cannot afford legal counsel. However, a motion on Hasan`s behalf has been filed in the International Criminal Court by a Florida-based human rights` campaigner.
Although Hasan has been back in Pakistan since 2006 Rose and the couple`s two children followed in 2008 the couple chose not to pursue Hasan`s case earlier because they saw no hope for justice under the former Bush administration. They are now pinning everything on President Barack Obama`s government.
"I got a phone call from the US embassy today,` says Rose, eyes shining with excitement in her two-room rented basement house in the capital city. The embassy has acknowledged the case for the first time since Rose`s arrival in Pakistan in January 2008.
"Before, [the embassy officials] simply told me to leave my husband, just divorce him,` says Rose. "They encouraged me to return to the US with my children and to forget about Hasan.` She adds that the officials told Rose, a US citizen, that three other US citizens would have to vouch for her on her arrival in the US.
Rose and Hasan`s attempts to return to the US have necessitated a revisiting of Hasan`s detention. Breaking down frequently while recalling the experience, Hasan says that on January 7, 2006, two men from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a subdivision of the DHS, arrested him and took him to Fayetteville, Arkansas. "I was told that I was a criminal, a fugitive and a terrorist. I kept telling them that I had done nothing wrong, but they wouldn`t listen,` he remembers.
"I was put in a cell and told to strip. While I was undressing, the taser came out. The agent kept zapping me until I passed out. When I woke up, I was lying on the floor naked and wet. He then started hitting and zapping me.`
Pulling his shirt up, Hasan reveals torture marks that remain visible after four years. His front teeth are missing due to heavy beating and he informs that his left hand remains numb. "They kept asking me, what do you know about the 9/11 attackers? Who do you know in Al Qaeda? How much money did you send to the terrorists? What are your plans for bombing the nuclear plants in the US?`
Hasan also recalls being chastised for marrying a white woman and being told by a federal agent that he would "make a career` on Hasan`s case. "I kept pleading with them that you`ve got the wrong guy, but they never stopped,` he adds.
According to Hasan, he was moved between several detention centres in the US, including one in Memphis, Tennessee, and another in Texas. "I couldn`t bear the torture. I wanted to be deported and started writing letters to the ICE asking for it. Then a month later, an ICE deportation officer appeared and said I could be sent to Pakistan only after I sign three pieces of blank paper. Otherwise, I was threatened that I would languish in cells forever and be sent to [the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay].` It was at this point that Hasan opted for deportation and was flown out to Pakistan.