Acting for two investigative journalists, the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic has sued the Central Intelligence Agency for silencing the top FBI interrogator of Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah. The lawsuit alleges a CIA effort to mislead the American public about the effectiveness of torture.

The lawsuit was filed on December 3, 2018, in federal court in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Raymond Bonner and Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. Bonner and Gibney are collaborating on a documentary about the CIA's use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" after 9/11. The film focuses on the use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to waterboarding at least 83 times after being secretly detained as a suspected member of al-Qaeda.

For the documentary, Bonner and Gibney are seeking to interview former FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan, who was the FBI’s lead interrogator of Zubaydah. Soufan interrogated Zubaydah himself while Zubaydah was held in a secret CIA prison in Thailand and witnessed some of the CIA’s initial experimental use of EITs on Zubaydah, according to the lawsuit. After leaving the FBI, Soufan wrote The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, in which he discussed his time as an FBI interrogator. While the FBI approved his book for publication, the CIA redacted large portions and he was forced to publish with entire pages blacked-out. Soufan maintains that none of the redacted information is properly classified.

Ballard Spahr attorneys David Schulz, Joe Slaughter, and Steven Zansberg all worked on this matter.

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