April 20th, 2010
08:47 PM ET

Youths in terror trial allege mistreatment in Pakistan

Pakistani authorities are denying a renewed claim that five Americans being held on terrorism charges were tortured into confessing.

Amal Khalifa, the mother of one of the suspects, said her son Ramy Zamzam detailed his claims during her recent visit to him in a Pakistani prison and in a letter.

She said the five youths went to Pakistan for a wedding without telling their parents and were watching television when thirty armed men put guns in their faces and took them away, ultimately holding them 36 hours without food or water. "They tortured them, they beat them up," Khalifa said. "As soon as they fell asleep, somebody hit them so they don't fall asleep."

Her son told her, "the chief of police over there asked him to say they are [planning] terrorism," she said. "He said, some of the boys, they can't take the pressure, and they confess."

Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington, vigorously denied the allegation. The youths have had regular consular access from American officials, he said, and there have been no formal complaints of mistreatment lodged by them.

In January, the deputy superintendent of the district jail in Pakistan, Aftab Hanif, told CNN that nobody had touched the suspects, and their allegations of mistreatment were false.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Islamabad, Rick Snelsire, confirmed that Pakistani officials have granted regular consular access to the Americans but could not comment further on the subject, citing privacy grounds. State Department spokesman Marc Toner said last month, "We take seriously all reports of abuse and torture. We did in fact raise those reports with officials from the government of Pakistan" but could not comment further.

Zamzam and four other college-aged Americans are being tried on charges including criminal conspiracy to commit terrorism and waging war against Pakistan and its allies. Pakistani officials have asserted that the five tried to meet up with militant extremists in Pakistan, and "they were of the opinion that a jihad must be waged against the infidels for the atrocities committed by them against Muslims around the world."

Their trial is scheduled to resume next week. If convicted, they could be sentenced to life in prison. But Khalifa said she hoped her son would be released instead.

- CNN's Dugald McConnell  and Brian Todd contributed to this report.

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. scheppel

    That is shocking

    April 21, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |