Aww, poor baby! The Muslim Terrorist from Canada is complaining about being mistreated as he rots in jail. He’s part of Al-Qaeda, and he’s the enemy. For all I care, I hope he never comes back!
A Canadian Muslim convert imprisoned in Mauritania since 2011 has told Amnesty International he was tortured into signing a confession that said he intended to join al-Qaeda in Mali.
“I am innocent and hope I can prove that one day,” Aaron Yoon, 24, a former resident of London, Ont., said in a statement released Tuesday by Amnesty Canada’s secretary general Alex Neve, who met him in prison.
“Whatever people think about me because of what my friends have done; whatever people may think of me because they don’t understand the choices I have made — I hope they do understand one thing. No one should ever be tortured and I have been tortured.”
Mr. Neve returned to Ottawa on Tuesday after taking part in an Amnesty delegation that interviewed inmates at three Mauritanian prisons, including the Prison Centrale, where Mr. Yoon is being held.
In an interview, he said Mr. Yoon had shown him scars and provided a credible description of torture that was consistent with the testimonies of other inmates who had complained about having been beaten into making confessions.
“He was detailed and very immediate and convincing in how he described what he went through. He acted out some of it, showing us positions he’d been put into,” Mr. Neve said. “He was able to give names of officers who he said were carrying out his torture and also gave a very vivid description of the officer who led the charge.”
Mr. Neve said he would be asking Canadian officials to pressure Mauritania to investigate the torture allegations and release Mr. Yoon unless he could receive a fair trail that did not rely on evidence tainted by torture.
“He did tell me that he had told them in one of the consular visits about the torture. So any time the Canadian government becomes aware that a Canadian detained abroad is saying that he or she has been tortured, that should be taken very seriously,” Mr. Neve said.
Canadian consular officers have visited Mr. Yoon several times in prison. “We do not comment on matters of national security. Allegations of this nature are addressed in the appropriate manner,” a Department of Foreign Affairs official said.
Mr. Yoon, a Korean-Canadian who converted to Islam in his teens, is one of several former students of a London high school who traveled to Africa two years ago and have since been linked to al-Qaeda terrorism.
In May 2011, Mr. Yoon, Ali Medlej and Xris Katsiroubas, also a Muslim convert, left for Morocco and Mauritania, where they studied together at a Koranic school. Mr. Medlej and Mr. Katsiroubas eventually left and, in January, were killed while taking part in a terrorist attack on an Algerian gas plant.
Mr. Yoon was “carrying out some errands” in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott when he was arrested in December 2011, according to Amnesty. Denied a lawyer or translator, he refused to answer any questions posed by police.
“I couldn’t answer many of their questions without a translator anyway as my Arabic was still pretty basic at that time. Simply asserting those rights is what unleashed the torture,” Mr. Yoon told Amnesty.
He said he was punched, kicked and hit with wooden sticks until he lost consciousness. Later, his hands and feet were tied behind his back in an “agonizing position” and he was beaten again, he said.
“He realized that this would never end unless he told them what they wanted,” according to Amnesty. “So he agreed to sign a statement confirming that he had been planning to go to Mali to join al-Qaeda. The statement itself, written in Arabic, was never read or translated to him. That is a pattern that Amnesty International has documented over several years.”
The confession was used to convict Mr. Yoon last July. His two-year sentence was to end in December but Mauritanian officials now want to increase that to ten years. He is still awaiting a decision.