A month-long pre-trial hearing is currently underway in February /early March in the case of four men accused of involvement in the September 2001 attacks in New York City. With some of the witnesses heard in closed session, and the defendants not attending all sessions, the judge continued to consider pre-trial issues such as what evidence to include and exclude and evidence obtained through the use of torture. Witnesses on the stand included one of the architects of the CIA extraordinary rendition torture programme, psychologist Dr James Mitchell, who gave testimony about the torture techniques he and other CIA operatives used on the defendants to extract confessions, including waterboarding. He last gave testimony in January 2020 in the case. FBI special agents involved in interrogations with the four men were also called as witnesses to give testimony, as their defence is seeking to have some evidence from these interrogations suppressed due to the CIA and FBI working together on them and using information taken from torture-based confessions. The hearing will end in early March and resume with more witnesses in mid-April, after Ramadan.
Two Afghan prisoners, Mullah Abdul Zahir Saber and Haji Abdul Karim, members of the Taliban in 2002, were released from Guantánamo to Oman in 2017, where they were held under house arrest and forbidden to travel. In mid-February, they returned to Afghanistan to a hero’s welcome following efforts to repatriate them by the Afghan government. One Afghan national remains at Guantánamo.