Editor's note: After this article was published, ProPublica retracted the specific claims that Gina Haspel "was in charge of a secret prison in Thailand during the infamous interrogation of an al Qaeda suspect" and that she "mocked the prisoner's suffering." The publication stood by its other torture-related reporting on Haspel. Our original report appears below:
Gina Haspel, President Trump's newly-minted nominee to head the CIA, was directly involved in waterboarding and torturing, a ProPublica investigation found. The subject was a man believed to be an al Qaeda leader, and the torture apparently took place while Haspel was working under the Bush administration.
Haspel led the charge at a "black site" in Thailand, a secret prison where the CIA interrogated suspects. In 2002, Haspel oversaw the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times in one month. "They slammed him against a wall, confined him for hours in a coffin-like box, and deprived him of sleep," ProPublica wrote in its report, published last year and resurfaced Tuesday. In the end, Zubaydah was found not to be associated with al Qaeda after all.
In addition to her prominent role at the black sites, Haspel reportedly pushed to destroy tapes that held video recordings of the torture. After being promoted to a more senior position, Haspel drafted an order to shred the tapes, ProPublica reported, and they were eventually destroyed without approval from the White House or Justice Department. The cover-up led the Senate Intelligence Committee to launch a probe into the torture program.
A CIA spokesperson denied the allegations about Haspel, telling ProPublica that "nearly every piece of the reporting that you are seeking comment on is incorrect in whole or in part."
On Tuesday, Trump tapped Haspel to lead the CIA, following his nomination of current director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. In his announcement, Trump praised Haspel's working relationship with Pompeo — but when Haspel was first chosen as Pompeo's second-in-command, her nomination sparked anger from human rights activists and lawmakers alike, including Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who penned a letter to Trump urging him to reconsider his choice, citing her "background."
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger who was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for launching a website that Saudi officials say insulted Islam, was awarded the European Union's highest human rights prize.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought honors people and groups that champion human rights and democracy. "On the case of Mr. Badawi, fundamental rights are not only not being respected, they are being trodden underfoot," European Parliament President Martin Schulz said Thursday in France after announcing the award. He asked that King Salman let Badawi go free so he could travel to Europe in December for his prize, the Los Angeles Times reports, and said in a statement that "the same should apply to all individuals condemned for having expressed freely their opinions in Saudi Arabia and beyond."
Several Western governments and human rights organizations have called for Badawi's release. In January, he received his first 50 lashes with a large cane in a public square, Amnesty International says. Doctors asked that the second round of lashes be postponed, because Badawi had not yet recovered, but his wife Ensaf Haider said a contact in Saudi Arabia told her the flogging would resume soon. Haider, who now lives in Canada with the couple's three children, said her husband "would be very happy to see the extent to which his fight is shared by so many people in the world. This prize is further evidence of that." Catherine Garcia
There are about 35.8 million enslaved men, women and children today, the 2014 Global Slavery Index finds.
India has the most modern-day slaves, an estimated 14 million, according to the report. China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia all have at least 1 million. The U.S. has 60,000.
According to the report, modern-day slavery includes people who are forced to work, controlled by an employer, sold as property, or physically constrained. Forced prostitution, domestic workers, and traveling sales crews are some examples.