High court to hear Guantanamo prisoner's state secrets case

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In this June 29, 2020 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court will decide whether a Palestinian man captured in the wake of 9/11 and detained at the prison on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay can get access to information the government classifies as state secrets.

Abu Zubaydah was initially captured in Pakistan and detained in CIA detention facilities abroad. The U.S. government says he was an associate and longtime ally of Osama bin Laden. Zubaydah and his lawyer want to question two former CIA contractors about the operation of a secret CIA facility in Poland where they say Zubaydah was held and tortured.

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 2-1 in 2019 that the two contractors could face limited questioning.

In asking the Supreme Court to take the case, the government said it has declassified a “significant amount of information regarding the former CIA Program, including the details of Abu Zubaydah’s treatment while in CIA custody, which included the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.” But it said it had “determined that certain categories of information—including the identities of its foreign intelligence partners and the location of former CIA detention facilities in their countries—could not be declassified without risking undue harm to the national security.”

The high court will not hear the case until sometime after its new term begins in October.

President Joe Biden's administration has said he will seek to close the prison on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay following a review process that began under the Obama administration.

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