U.S. citizens tortured in Pakistan?

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Human Rights Watch yesterday reported that two brothers were illegally apprehended in Pakistan last summer, then held and tortured over a period of eight months, allegedly at the behest of the U.S. government.

Sure, it sounds like a familiar story. But there’s a twist: first of all, the brothers, though they live in Pakistan, are U.S. citizens. Second, one of the two, Zain Afzal, had been abducted under similar circumstances only a few months earlier. After being questioned and tortured–and suffering a burst eardrum and severe lacerations on his back–he was released the next day.

According to the men, FBI agents dropped by to question them in jail at least six times. On these occasions, Zain Afzal, who was being asked the same questions he answered the first time he was abducted, told the agents he was being tortured by his jailers, only to be told by the FBI agents that the matter was “beyond their jurisdiction.” (Oddly, very few American media sources have picked up the story.) According to the Afzal brothers, not only did the FBI threaten to send them to Cuba, their Pakistani captors did as well. Go Team America! Pakistani torturers are now threatening their prisoners with Guantanamo!

In other news, Amnesty International, in its newly released 2005 human rights report, accuses the United States of damaging human rights by its treatment of detainees. To which White House Spokesman Scott McClellan responded, “The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity.”

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