The Forced Disappearance of Mustafa Setmariam Nassar

Human Rights

In October 2005, Mustafa Setmariam Nassar, a Spanish citizen of Syrian origin and an influential Islamic theorist, was apprehended by agents of the Pakistani government and handed over to U.S. officials. Nassar's wife and family have not heard from him since. All evidence points to the fact that Nassar was a target of the "extraordinary rendition" program, and to this day, the United States government has refused to discuss its involvement in Nassar's disappearance. His wife and family do not know where he is located, or if he is alive or dead. For the past four years, his four children have been brought up without their father.

In a statement issued today, Nassar's wife commented on her family's four-year long ordeal:

Without knowing what has happened to my husband, I don't know where to go with my life or how to move on. The pain of not knowing is becoming unbearable and I am so concerned for my children's wellbeing if they should find out about the tragedy that we are being put through. ... If my husband is suspected of doing anything wrong, he should get his day in court. If he isn't, he should be let go. No one deserves to be treated like this. Everywhere I turn I am denied information, so I am asking the U.N. to help bring my husband, myself and our children a little bit of justice.

As requests for information about Nassar's forced disappearance have been ignored by the U.S. government, his wife has been left with no other choice but to turn to the international community for assistance.

Today, the ACLU, together with Alkarama for Human Rights and Reprieve, sent a request to the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, asking it to take up Nassar’s case with the government of the United States. We requested the working group fully investigate the specific circumstances of Nassar’s enforced disappearance at the hands of the U.S. government.

Similar requests were also sent to Martin Scheinin, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, and to Manfred Nowak, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, on Nassar’s behalf. These requests implicate the U.S. government as well as the governments of Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Syria and Spain, who may all have been involved in some capacity in Nassar’s enforced disappearance.

Learn more about Nassar here.

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