View Full Version : Guantánamo: the forgotten prisoner

02-23-2009, 05:32 PM
Comment by Moazzam Begg:

Guantánamo: the forgotten prisoner

Finally, Binyam Mohamed is coming home. But Shaker Aamer is also a British resident – don't abandon this gentle family man.

Perhaps the most heart-breaking thing a child whose father is in prison will ever have to do is to explain to his – or her – classmates why daddy never comes to collect him from school. The very mention that daddy is in jail will, at least in some cases, elicit the puerile jeering and mockery expected in any school playground. Society – schools included – tells us that people in prison must be bad. That may be the case for those found guilty of heinous crimes. But, how does a seven-year-old – who has never seen his father, except through old photographs his tormented mother shows him – explain to his peers the iniquitous nature of the removal of habeas corpus? How does he argue his father's case when he doesn't even know what a father is? How will he explain all this to his classmates when we cannot even explain it to adults? This – and much more – is what one chid and his three older siblings in London have experienced daily since the incarceration of their father more than seven years ago.

Since the early 90s, Shaker Aamer had resided in the UK, where he worked as a translator at a legal firm and later met his wife. In the summer of 2001, Aamer made the decision to live and work in Pakistan and Afghanistan, along with his wife and children, to undertake projects to support a girls' school and build wells. Shortly after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Aamer, it is believed, like hundreds of others, was sold for a bounty of $5,000 by tribal warlords eager to receive the lucrative rewards offered for foreign Muslims by the US military. His family managed to return safely to the UK, but Aamer was sent to a series of secret prisons and eventually to Guantánamo Bay.

Guantánamo has become a major embarrassment for the US administration, and President Barack Obama's call to close the place – along with the CIA detention sites – is welcome. We have already seen how the torture meted out before and during our incarceration in Guantánamo has become a source of altercation and unease between two of the world's closest allies, especially through the case of Binyam Mohamed, who is now finally being returned to his place of residence in the UK. Having been subjected to some truly horrific torture, Mohamed undoubtedly deserves to be afforded the dignity of rehabilitation and reintegration into normal life. If this is true in the case of Mohamed, then it is even more so in the case of Aamer and his family.

Aamer was a very well-known and liked person among his community; he left an indelible impression on most of the people who met and conversed with him. He is faithful, brave, charismatic, kind, polite and full of life. All of us in Guantánamo knew his qualities, including the men guarding us.
Terry Holdbrooks, one of Aamer's guards, serving in a military police unit from 2003-04 in Guantánamo, said about him: "He's a wonderful character – unbelievably intelligent, very polite, very well-mannered, great etiquette … no matter whom the guard was he was working with – whether it was a very ignorant uncaring American with no recognition for his situation or me … He was a wonderful person – I absolutely enjoyed spending time with him."

There has been some confusion as to where Aamer should be sent to since he was cleared for release and transfer over a year ago. The Americans wanted to send him to Saudi Arabia, since he is a citizen of that country, but he has leave to remain in the UK and his family are all here. His UK lawyer, Gareth Peirce, commented: "He's not charged with anything. Where is the problem? His family's all in the UK and the UK has accepted that it has called for his return here. The new US administration wants to close down Guantánamo. Bringing Aamer home tomorrow wouldn't be soon enough."

Aamer has never been designated for trial by military commission and there is no intention to prosecute him. He has lost more than half his body weight due to several hunger strikes he has participated in, agitating for better conditions and the right to be charged and tried – or released. But ultimately, Aamer is a father and a husband who simply wants to come home. Zachary Katznelson from Reprieve, on organisation that legally represents a large number of the men still in Guantánamo said: "Shaker's primal concern has always been about his family: how he could return to being a father again, how he could return to being a husband again."

Aamer's wife has been hospitalised a number of times due to the terrible strain his absence has placed upon her and her children. Her words haunt all who know his case:
Your disappearance isn't natural
Is that what was written in my fate?
What kind of departure was it?
Your commemoration in my mind
Faaris Aamer, the child who has yet to meet his father, still patiently awaits the day that the man in the photographs he sees holding his older sister and brothers – Juhayna (12), Mish'al (10) and Abdur-Rahman (9) – all those years ago, walks through the door and finally says, "As-salaamu alaikum kids – I'm your father. I'm home."

It is high time Aamer came home.

On behalf of the family of Shaker Aamer and former Guantánamo prisoners: Shafiq Rasul, Ruhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, Tarek Dergoul, Jamal al-Harith, Richard Belmar, Martin Mubanga, Feroz Abbassi, Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil Elbanna, Omar Deghayes and Abdenour Sameur


Moazzam Begg is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and spokesman for Cageprisoners.

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02-23-2009, 07:09 PM
I don't want to create yet another thread so I'm going to post this article here:

Guantanamo memoirs prove bestsellers
By Dawood Azami
BBC Pashto service

US President Barack Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year has been welcomed as a positive development in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But Guantanamo literature, produced by a number of former inmates, is making it harder for the US to claw back lost ground in their battle to win "hearts and minds".

The inmates have been publishing a record of what they say they endured during their detention in the notorious US detention facility in Cuba.

Several books written in Pashto have become bestsellers. All have one thing in common - the alleged "cruelty", "savagery" and "inhumane treatment " by the Americans.

One such book, originally written in Pashto, is by Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taleban ambassador to Pakistan who spent more than three years imprisoned at Guantanamo. It is due to be published in English this year.

After his release in September 2005, Mullah Zaeef published his story and it became an overnight bestseller in Afghanistan and Pakistan - which is rare for a Pashto book.

Entitled Da Guantanamo Anzoor (Guantanamo's Picture), the 156-page book describes in graphic detail the events from his arrest by "hypocritical " Pakistani officials to his "mistreatment" by the Americans.

After being "sold" by Pakistanis, the Americans, he writes, "kicked me, punched me and stripped me. They pushed me in a helicopter with my legs and hands tightly shackled. The Americans chatted while they sat over my back, as if I was a piece of wood or stone".

Oral and written

Following the 9/11 attacks on America, the US-led coalition toppled the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, accusing it of harbouring the al-Qaeda leadership.

Of the 800 or so inmates who have passed through Guantanamo since it opened in 2001, about 600 are Afghans.

The success of Guantanamo's Picture surprised Mullah Zaeef

The administration of George W Bush labelled them as unlawful combatants. Human rights groups said that most of the Afghan inmates were innocent and were picked up on the basis of mistaken identity or wrong intelligence. The stories of former inmates, both oral and written, have been circulating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where mullahs in the mosques and people privately discuss the Americans.

A stream of visitors comes to the door of those released from Guantanamo.

"I wanted the world to know the truth but didn't think that my book would become so popular," says the soft-spoken Mullah Zaeef.

"I think one of the reasons for its popularity is that people wanted to know about the role of Pakistani security officials who sold many innocent people to the Americans."

Mr Zaeef admires a few Americans who were nice to him, did not "torture or beat" him and spoke to him kindly.

But generally the book details "abuse and ill-treatment" by US soldiers and officials.


The book has been published in Urdu, Persian and French.

"There has been a huge interest in the French translation of Mr Zaeef's book (Prisonnier a Guantanamo)", says its French editor and publisher, Gerard de Villiers.

There is no doubt that these books have had a negative impact on public opinion and increased anti-American feelings both in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Dr Wadir Safi, Kabul University

Da Guantanamo Mati Zawlanay (The Broken Shackles of Guantanamo) is another successful example of Guantanamo literature - written in Pashto by two brothers, Badar Zaman Badar and Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, who spent several years in the prison.

They say they were also "sold" to Americans by Pakistani security officials in late 2001 in Peshawar where they lived as Afghan refugees.

In their book, the two journalist brothers also give a detailed account of several years of "humiliation, interrogation and ill-treatment by the Americans".

Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost was reportedly arrested by Pakistani security forces sometime after his release from Guantanamo and is still missing.

"The readers' interest in such books is unprecedented," says Assadullah Danish, head of Danish Publishing House in Peshawar, who published the first edition of Mullah Zaeef's book. "In addition to anti-American sentiments, Guantanamo was a new topic and an interesting story to read."

The books have been published several times without the permission of the authors.

"Even Pakistani intelligence agencies have published an Urdu translation of my book but they have omitted the passages where I described their complicity in this whole affair," says Mullah Zaeef.

"There is no doubt that these books have had a negative impact on public opinion and increased anti-American feelings both in Afghanistan and Pakistan," says Dr Wadir Safi, a professor of political science at Kabul University.

"We don't know what percentage of the population in the region would have been influenced but people here say that Americans violate those laws that they made themselves."

Returning home

Around 240 people, including 26 Afghans, are still in Guantanamo Bay.

But hundreds of Afghans who were imprisoned there over the past eight years have been transferred to a purpose-built prison in Kabul.

Afghanistan's Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Aleko, who also heads the Commission for Reviewing Guantanamo and Bagram Prisoners, says that "some mistakes have been made" in making arrests, adding that "that is why this commission was established".

"They were arrested in a state of war against the Taleban," he told the BBC.

"Foreign forces were nervous, fighting in an alien country and were not familiar with the local culture."

With the election of President Obama there has been a renewed focus on the campaign for winning "hearts and minds" and more resources are likely to be allocated for social and economic development.

But it seems that Guantanamo has caused long-term damage to the reputation of America and changing this image will take time.


02-23-2009, 07:22 PM
At a glance: Guantanamo Britons

02-24-2009, 01:55 PM
Factfile: Britain's Guantánamo detainees

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02-24-2009, 02:56 PM
It's kind of hard to have sympathy when many that have been released from Gitmo has either been recaptured on the battlefield or have carried out suicide missions.

02-24-2009, 03:07 PM
2006 list
Abdullah Mahsud
Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar
Mohamed Yusif Yaqub
Abdul Rahman Noor
Mohammed Nayim Farouq
Mohammed Ismail

2007 list

Said Mohammed Alim Shah Yes Killed Afghanistan Afghanistan
Ravil Shafeyavich Gumarov No Arrest Russia Russia
Ruslan Anatolivich Odijev Yes Killed Russia Russia
Abdallah Saleh Ali Al Ajmi No Killed Kuwait Iraq
Mohammed Mizouz No Arrest Morocco Morocco
Ibrahim Shafir Sen No Arrest Turkey Turkey
Shai Jahn Ghafoor Yes Killed Afghanistan Afghanistan
Mohammed Yusif Yaqub Yes Killed Afghanistan Afghanistan
Ibrahim Bin Shakaran No Arrest Morocco Morocco
Mohammed Nayim Farouq Yes At Large Afghanistan Afghanistan
Timur Ravilich Ishmurat No Arrest Russia Russia
Mohammed Ismail Yes Capture Afghanistan Afghanistan

2008 list
Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar Had been a senior Taliban military leader prior to capture.
Allegedly captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, was one of the twenty-three prisoners released from Camp Delta in late January 2004. After his release, he joined the remnants of the Taliban and was killed in a gunfight on September 26, 2004.

The official list of Guantanamo captives included two men with the same name, who remained in custody years after Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar had been reported to have been released, and killed in combat.

Abdullah Mehsud Reportedly captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 after surrendering to Abdul Rashid Dostum.
That he was ever been captured, and sent to Guantanamo has been challenged.
Allegedly masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in Pakistan's South Waziristan region.
Allegedly returning to his position as an Al-Qaeda field commander. One of the Chinese engineers died during a rescue mission, the other was rescued.
Mehsud also claimed responsibility for the bombing at Islamabad's Marriott Hotel in October 2004. The blast injured seven people, including a U.S. diplomat, two Italians and the Pakistani prime minister's chief security officer. Mehsud was subsequently reported to have been killed in combat.

203 Ravil Shafeyavich Gumarov Reported to have had military training in Chechnya.
Convicted of bombing a natural gas pipeline on May 9, 2006.
Sentenced to 13 years.

211 Ruslan Anatolivich Odishev Repatriated to Russian custody, cleared, then released.

294 Mohammed Bin Ahmad Mizouz One of the first 200 captives to be repatriated.
Reported seeing guards urinate on the Koran.
Reported being tortured while in US custody, reported that all the techniques used in Abu Ghraib were first used on captives like him in Bagram.
Convicted in September 2007 of recruiting fighters to send to Iraq.

Ibrahim Shafir Sen Sued Donald Rumsfeld upon his release.
Ibrahim Shafir Sen was transferred to Turkey in November 2003. In January 2008, Sen was arrested in Van, Turkey, and charged as the leader of an active al-Qaida cell.

Mohammed Yusif Yaqub
Mullah Shahzada Reports of the release, return to the battlefield, and subsequent death in combat of Mullah Shahzada, while reported in the press, is always attributed to unnamed insiders. The official list of Guantanamo captives included a man the same name, Haji Shahzada who remained in custody years after the stories that Mullah Shahzada had been reported to have been released, and killed in combat. Haji Shahzada was one of the 38 captives whose Combatant Status Review Tribunal determined they had not been an enemy combatant in the first place.
On Monday, May 14, 2007, Pentagon officials, for the first time, tied the reports that "Mullah Shahzada" had returned to the battlefield to the name of one of the captives on the official list of Guantanamo captives, Mohammed Yusif Yaqub. According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
"Released May 8, 2003, he assumed control of Taliban operations in Southern Afghanistan and died fighting U.S. forces on May 7, 2004."

Ibrahim Bin Shakaran The Defense Intelligence Agency asserted Ibrahim Bin Shakaran had "returned to terrorism". The DIA reported:

In September 2007 he was convicted in a Moroccan court for recruiting fighters for Al Qaida in Iraq in 2005.
Allegedly he was working to create an al Qaida in the Lands of the Maghreb.
Allegedly he was coordinating "sleeper cells" to go for training and return to Morocco.

Mohammed Ismail First identified as a former captive who had returned to the battlefield in Testimony before Congress on Monday May 14, 2007. According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
"Released from Guantanamo in early 2004, he was recaptured four months later in May while participating in an attack on U.S. forces near Kandahar. When captured, Ismail carried a letter confirming his status as a Taliban member in good standing."

Abdul Rahman Noor First identified as a former captive who had returned to the battlefield in Testimony before Congress on Monday May 14, 2007. According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
"Released in July 2003, he has since participated in fighting against U.S. forces near Kandahar. After his release, he was identified as the man described in an October 7, 2001, interview with Al Jazeera television as the "deputy defense minister of the Taliban."

Mohammed Nayim Farouq First identified as a former captive who had returned to the battlefield in Testimony before Congress on Monday, May 14, 2007.[8] According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
Released from U.S. custody in July 2003, he quickly renewed his association with Taliban and al Qaeda members and has since become "reinvolved in anti-coalition militant activity."

02-24-2009, 03:08 PM
There are also tons that the US want to release but either their home countries won't take or their lawyers have blocked them from being sent back to their home countries.

02-25-2009, 04:47 PM
Originally Posted by Izyan
It's kind of hard to have sympathy when many that have been released from Gitmo has either been recaptured on the battlefield or have carried out suicide missions.
Well if they weren't terrorists beforehand, then 'Gitmo' is a surefire way to turn them into one. If there is one thing that I agree with Obama on, it is that we must reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Guantanamo may be being closed, but it must always be remembered as a time when America and Britain strayed far from their ideals.

02-25-2009, 04:49 PM
Originally Posted by Osman
Well if they weren't terrorists beforehand, then 'Gitmo' is a surefire way to turn them into one. If there is one thing that I agree with Obama on, it is that we must reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Guantanamo may be being closed, but it must always be remembered as a time when America and Britain strayed far from their ideals.
Is that why all those American POWs returned to Vietnam after they were released?

02-25-2009, 04:50 PM
Comment by Sarah Teather:

Guantánamo: we need the truth

Without transparency about Binyam Mohamed's torture, the damage done will linger for years after the camp's closure.

With a stoic grace, Binyam Mohamed has described his return to the UK today after seven long years of detention in Guantánamo Bay as "more in sadness than in anger".

I have met that sense of emptiness and loss before. I have worked with two constituents who returned to the UK after a long incarceration in Guantánamo. In both cases the men had been illegally taken, in the process known as extraordinary rendition, by the CIA from an African country; and in both cases there were allegations of torture and degrading treatment. The journey to rebuild a life and to reconnect with family has been long, slow and fraught with pain. How do you come to terms with the lost years, the shame of allegations you cannot refute, or to witnessing humanity at its very darkest? Binyam Mohamed will need his friends and family around him, and the time and space to move on. It will therefore fall to others to ask the vital questions he is too weary to ask for himself.

We must not be squeamish or turn a blind eye to what has happened to him. Over seven years he has been shackled and blindfolded, flown to dark prisons across the world and kept incommunicado. He has made allegations of systematic torture, and says he had up to 20 or 30 cuts made into his penis and genitalia, with chemicals poured on the wounds for extra pain. In Guantánamo, reports suggest he was routinely humiliated and abused, resulting in long periods on hunger strike in protest. In all this time, Mohamed was never charged with a crime.

We might have expected the government to protect a UK resident from such barbaric treatment. Instead, their fingerprints are all over his case file.

Torture is wrong, pure and simple. Civilised and democratic governments, including Britain, should have absolutely no role in a practice that is both ineffective and inhumane, and there is no excuse to put our so-called special relationship with the US before the rule of law. It is not enough to simply speak out against torture: the foreign secretary has a duty to help root out and end such practices.

We cannot stamp out torture unless we know why and how it was allowed to happen in the first place. Barack Obama's commitment to close Guantánamo is a huge leap forward, but we need a full investigation to make sure that such fundamental basic principles can never be flouted again. Without this openness and transparency, the damage done by Guantánamo will linger on long after the detention camp is closed.

The Labour government should be standing up to the United States, not colluding in a cover-up. If British residents have been subjected to torture, and if our own government have turned a blind eye, then we have a right to know. If the British government is sitting on vital evidence then it should immediately release it to the public.

Binyam Mohamed has said that, when he asked a camp guard why he was being tortured, the guard replied, "It's just to degrade you, so when you leave here, you'll have the scars and you'll never forget."

We should not forget either. The wounds and scars inflicted on Mohamed are not just a personal tragedy for him, they also represent a vicious assault on the values and humanity of our country. Labour's already bruised and battered human rights record lies in tatters. President Obama has promised a fresh start but, before the slate can be wiped clean, we have to be told the truth.

Sarah Teather is Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Guantánamo Bay.


02-25-2009, 04:59 PM
Greetings Izyan,
Originally Posted by Izyan
Is that why all those American POWs returned to Vietnam after they were released?
Please be more specific about which POWs you're referring to. Are there any articles I can read about it?


02-25-2009, 05:31 PM
Originally Posted by Osman
Greetings Izyan,

Please be more specific about which POWs you're referring to. Are there any articles I can read about it?

Because they didn't return. They went on with their lives the best they could. John McCain has every reason to go back to Vietnam and cause hell but he doesn't.

02-25-2009, 05:40 PM
Originally Posted by Izyan
Because they didn't return. They went on with their lives the best they could. John McCain has every reason to go back to Vietnam and cause hell but he doesn't.
I see. Well, that's admirable. I do not for one moment excuse those who commit terrorist acts. They are wrong, but they must be dealt with in ways befitting of countries which claim to be civilised. Guantanamo was not that.

03-01-2009, 02:52 PM
Pressure grows for Binyam inquiry

A senior Tory MP has joined calls for an inquiry into whether UK resident and former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed was tortured.

David Davis said he was "convinced" that Mr Mohamed was tortured and that the government may have known about - or even colluded with - the torture.

Mr Mohamed, who was detained for seven years, says his torturers received assistance from British intelligence.

Ministers say a decision on an inquiry must await their own investigations.

But they are facing increasing pressure from senior figures - including their own terror watchdog Lord Carlile - to set up a full judicial inquiry.

At the moment we have got an investigation by the Attorney General
Harriet Harman MP

Mr Davis, a former shadow home secretary, told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I am convinced... that Binyam Mohamed was actually tortured.

"I am pretty convinced that we knew about it, and I'm reasonably convinced - I think there's a prima facie case - that we colluded in it in some way".

He said if the allegations were true then "a huge number of laws had been broken", and to attempt to cover it up was also a breach of the law.

He said he favoured a "judge-led inquiry" into the torture claims, echoing calls from Lord Carlile who accused ministers of providing only a "limited" account of the UK's role in the abduction and alleged torture of terror suspects.

Lord Carlile told the Sunday Times that a judicial inquiry was needed to look into the claims made Mr Mohamed.

He also favoured an inquiry into the treatment of two al-Qaeda suspects in Afghanistan who the government has now admitted were handed over to American forces by the SAS in 2004.

Torture claims

Mr Mohamed has said British agents supplied "questions and material" to his torturers after he was abducted and flown to Morocco by his American captors.

He was subsequently transferred to Guantanamo Bay, from where he was released to the UK on Monday.

The government has responded to his allegations by asking the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, to decide whether there should be a criminal investigation.

Asked whether there should be a public inquiry into Mr Mohamed's case, Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman told the BBC: "Lord Carlile stands outside the government and gives the government very important advice on this.

"Obviously we will have to listen to what he says but at the moment we have got an investigation by the Attorney General."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "Lord Carlile is the government's own reviewer and from a government point of view has always been a safe pair of hands.

"When even he feels a need to call for a judicial inquiry the game must be up and the inquiry will no doubt soon follow."

But there has been mounting criticism at the length of time being taken to decide whether police should investigate the allegations.

This week Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "To take four months to make a decision of this kind is a very long time. I think we need a decision now."

The Conservatives say there is an "urgent need" for the government to be as transparent as possible about rendition as well as the Binyam Mohamed case.

A spokesman said: "If it fails to do so the case for a wide-ranging inquiry will become steadily stronger."


03-01-2009, 10:20 PM
still...we need to wait until end of this year according to Obama's plan to close the prison. May Allah guide our path and helps to ease all the prisoners' mind .

03-07-2009, 02:11 PM
Cori Crider: Obama's backsliding on torture

After the president's swift move to close Guantánamo, I thought Binyam Mohamed would soon be free. I fear we were deceived.

Not long ago, I marched across the gravel of Guantánamo Bay's Camp Echo with two overstuffed grocery sacks and tramped up the stairs of the hut where a prisoner sat, shackled and waiting. A guard swung open the grate. I went in, heaved the bags on the table, and greeted Binyam Mohamed with all the brightness I could muster.

Not that I expected Binyam, the most abused of Reprieve's thirty clients in Gitmo, to show much jubilation. It is hard to buoy a man who has experienced years of physical and psychological torture. Under the classification rules, I'm not allowed to write a word that Binyam said in reply. I can say that when I bade him farewell and promised to catch him on the outside, he shrugged and smiled a sardonic smile. And perhaps just a spark of hope in his eyes.

As I glanced back at him in a jumpsuit and chains, I remembered that this man was broken in our name, along with countless others. I had been sure Binyam was to be the first man released by the Obama administration. Yet the government that ruined Binyam's life seems to be well into the business of forgetting.

President Obama inherited a human rights debacle of epic proportions. One of his earliest acts, during his very first hours in office, was to signal a change of policy by ordering the closure of Guantánamo. But the administration's current response now seems to have reverted to the secretive policies of the Bush administration, flouting the principles of open government that he had pledged to revive.

Yet, not once has the US government admitted where it took Binyam Mohamed between April of 2002 and May of 2004. Of course, our client knows – and we have seen the rendition flight logs and crew registers that bolster his account. There is also a wealth of government documents that would show exactly what was done to Binyam.

The Bush Justice Department was ordered no fewer than three times to give us, his lawyers, all "exculpatory" information in Binyam's case; the response was stone-faced secrecy and flat noncompliance. Eventually, and begrudgingly, they handed over a smattering of documents identified as exculpatory by British intelligence.

I've seen these documents, but I can't tell you what's in them. The British courts have told us that they confirm Binyam's account of his torture, but why should the American people depend on the British for this limited access to truth? The British courts have said that the people of a democratic society have a right to know if a government has tortured in their name. They are right.

There can be no legitimate national security interest in covering up torture. Yet, in Binyam's lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, the Obama government argues that the entire case is so secret that it must be thrown out for national security reasons. Only embarrassment for the Bush administration is at stake. So what has the new government to fear?

Obama speaks primarily of "looking ahead", rather than back. The fallacy of this position is that it assumes we can know ourselves without ever holding a mirror up; that we can learn from history without knowing what that history was. What really happened to Binyam Mohamed? How many more shared his fate?

There is a way to rectify all this. First, Obama's team must change tack on Binyam Mohamed and release evidence of his torture. The President should then appoint a non-partisan commission with the power to compel testimony, the clearance to access top-secret information, and the duty to report to the American public on seven years of torture policy.

The torture of Binyam Mohamed reflects on us as a people. So does the way we react to our past now. Binyam Mohamed will be wrestling with his demons for the rest of his days. The very least we, as a society, can do now is to look to our own.


Cori Crider joined Reprieve in 2006, supported by a human rights fellowship from Harvard Law School. She is now a staff attorney licensed in New York and helps represent over forty current and former Guantánamo prisoners.

03-08-2009, 11:50 AM
Demands for MI5 'torture' inquiry

MPs have demanded a judicial inquiry into a Guantanamo Bay prisoner's claims that MI5 was complicit in his torture.

In a Mail on Sunday interview, UK resident Binyam Mohamed claims MI5 fed his US captors questions, at a time he said he was being tortured in Morocco.

His allegations are being investigated by the government, but the Foreign Office said it did not condone torture.

Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said the "extremely serious" claims should also be referred to the police.

'Dark prison'

Mr Mohamed told the paper he was held in continual darkness for weeks on end in a prison in Kabul, Afghanistan.

He has claimed that while in US custody in 2002, he was rendered to Morocco for interrogation and torture, which led to him making a false confession.

Now he has released what he said were two telegrams sent from British intelligence to the CIA in November 2002.

In the first memo, the writer asks for a name to be put to him and then for him to be questioned further about that person.

The longest was when they chained me for eight days on end, in a position that meant I couldn't stand straight nor sit
Binyam Mohamed

The second telegram asks about a timescale for further interrogation.

The legal organisation Reprive, which represents Mr Mohamed, said its client was shown the telegrams in Guantanamo Bay by his military lawyer Lieutenant Col Yvonne Bradley.

Mr Mohamed claimed he acquired the telegrams through the US legal process when he was fighting to be freed from Guantanamo Bay.

Daniel Sandford, BBC Home Affairs correspondent, said Mr Mohamed's claims would be relatively simple to substantiate.

"As time progresses it will probably become quite apparent whether indeed these are true telegrams and I think it's unlikely they'd be put into the public domain if they couldn't eventually be checked back."

The Conservatives have called for a police inquiry into his allegations of British collusion.

Mr Grieve called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations.

"And if the evidence is sufficient to bring a prosecution then the police ought to investigate it," he added.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said there was a "rock solid" case for an independent judicial inquiry.

Labour MP Andrew Dismore, who chairs the joint committee on human rights, said he would asking the home and foreign secretaries to explain how Britain's policy against torture is being implemented and monitored.

Shami Chakrabati, director of campaign group Liberty said: "These are more than allegations - these are pieces of a puzzle that are being put together.

"It makes an immediate criminal investigation absolutely inescapable."

Former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis accused the government of "stonewalling" by referring the claims to the Attorney General rather than the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"What appears to have happened is they have been turning blind eyes," he added.


Mr Mohamed told the paper the worst part of this captivity was in Kabul's "dark prison".

"The toilet in the cell was a bucket," he told the paper.

"There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out what felt like about 160 watts, a deafening volume, non-stop, 24 hours a day.

We abhor torture and never order it or condone it
Foreign Office spokesman

He added: "They chained me for eight days on end, in a position that meant I couldn't stand straight nor sit.

"I couldn't sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night."

Mr Mohamed spent just under seven years in custody, four of those in Guantanamo - the US's camp in Cuba.

He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 as US authorities considered him a would-be bomber who fought alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan.

But last year the US dropped all charges against him, and he was released in February.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We abhor torture and never order it or condone it.

"We take allegations of mistreatment seriously and investigate them when they are made.

"In the case of Binyam Mohamed, an allegation of possible criminal wrong-doing has been referred to the Attorney General.

"We need now to wait for her report."

Source (BBC News)

03-26-2009, 07:23 PM
Police to probe UK torture claims

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