Archive for January, 2010

Murders at Guantánamo: Scott Horton and Andy Worthington talk to Jeff Farias

Just over two hours into progressive radio host Jeff Farias’ Thursday show (available here), I joined Jeff to discuss Scott Horton’s extraordinary article for Harper’s Magazine (which I discussed here), in which, through interviews with four members of the US military who were serving at Guantánamo in June 2006, Scott established a viable and chilling alternative to the authorities’ prevailing story about the deaths: that they were coordinated suicides, presented at the time as an act of “asymmetrical warfare.”

While waiting for Scott (whose phone had inexplicably cut out as the interview was supposed to begin), I explained the outline of the story, which focuses on the testimony of Army Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman and three other members of the US military, who have presented a coherent explanation for how the men were, in fact, taken to a secret facility outside the main perimeter fence of Guantánamo on the evening of June 9, 2006, where they died — either accidentally, as a result of torture that went too far, or because they were murdered. According to this account, the corpses were then returned to Camp Delta, where the triple suicide story was subsequently concocted.

Once Scott joined in, he provided further details, and we also discussed how disappointing it is that the story has been almost completely ignored in the mainstream media in America. I also talked about the testimony of the British resident Shaker Aamer, who told his attorneys that he was brutally tortured on the same evening. This seems to add another explanation for why he has not been freed, despite being cleared for release in 2007, because he knows too much about what has happened in Guantánamo.

I also had the opportunity to discuss the implications that Scott’s story has for two further deaths at Guantánamo, which were also described as suicides: the death of Abdul Rahman al-Amri in May 2007, and, last June (on President Obama’s watch), the death of Muhammad Salih. At the time, doubts were expressed about Salih’s death, because he had been a spirited opponent of the regime at Guantánamo, who had been inexplicably moved from the general population several months before his death.

For those who want to know more, please read Scott’s article, my recap on Scott’s article, my archive on the deaths at Guantánamo, and the Seton Hall Law School’s detailed analysis of the holes in the official investigation of the deaths in June 2006 (PDF).

There are many other important aspects of the story that need to be examined to grasp the whole picture — not least that all five men were long-term hunger strikers (who may, therefore, have made powerful enemies somewhere within the prison’s command structure), that two of the men who died in June 2006 had been cleared for release before their deaths, and that at least one of these men had been informed of his release, and was happy about it.

Last night, I reread the Seton Hall report, after discovering a few dissenting voices arguing that the suicide narrative is sound. Nothing that I read confirmed that this was the case. In fact, the Seton Hall report reveals very clearly how written statements were not taken from witnesses at the time (as they should have been), but were, instead, requested and then suddenly, and inexplicably abandoned, that no attempt was made to find out exactly who was on duty on the evening, and to take statements from them, and that there are huge discrepancies between the various accounts that were provided in the days and weeks following the deaths.

If you find any of this disturbing, please help to keep this story alive. The mainstream media has turned its back on it — as the Justice Department did, in an unconvincing manner — but that’s no reason for us not to keep this story alive on the web.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

The madness of Tony Blair, the futility of the Chilcot inquiry

Tony Blair at the Chilcot InquirySo will the Chilcot Inquiry into the illegal invasion of Iraq actually do anything when it finally reaches its conclusions? It seems unlikely. Over the last two months, we have had some fascinating moments: on November 26, for example, when Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to the US, delivered testimony which, as I explained at the time, “demonstrated, without a shadow of a doubt, how ‘regime change’ in Iraq was agreed between George W. Bush and Tony Blair in April 2002, and how the rush to war by the US meant that furious attempts to justify the plan were doomed to fail, ‘because there was no smoking gun.’”

Last week, we had the disturbing testimony of Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign Office’s Legal Adviser, and his deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst. Wood was revelatory about how Jack Straw, who has, at times, portrayed himself as the highest profile dissenter in the Cabinet, had, in an unprecedented manner, turned down his legal adviser’s recommendations. On January 24, 2003, Wood wrote to Straw telling him the UK “cannot lawfully use force in Iraq in ensuring compliance” on the basis of existing UN resolutions, including resolution 1441, which, in November 2002, gave Saddam Hussein a “final opportunity” to comply. He added, “To use force without Security Council authority would amount to the crime of aggression.” In his reply, Straw wrote that he “noted” Sir Michael’s advice but did “not accept it.”

In a contemporary statement, dated January 15, 2020, and issued as part of the proceedings (PDF), Wood had not changed his opinions, and wrote unequivocally, “I considered that the use of force against Iraq in March 2003 was contrary to international law. In my opinion, that use of force had not been authorised by the Security Council, and had no other legal basis in international law.”

Wilmshurst, who, unlike Wood, resigned because of her opposition to the illegality of the war, was also devastatingly critical, explaining, in a powerfully understated manner, that the entire process was “lamentable” and lacking in transparency. Also released as part of the proceedings was Wilmshurst’s resignation letter, dated March 18, 2003, which makes for fascinating reading (PDF included with a batch of other correspondence). Wilmshurst wrote:

1. I regret that I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it. My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN security council resolution 1441 and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line). I cannot in conscience go along with advice — within the Office or to the public or Parliament — which asserts the legitimacy of military action without such a resolution, particularly since an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression; nor can I agree with such action in circumstances which are so detrimental to the international order and the rule of law.

2. I therefore need to leave the Office: my views on the legitimacy of the action in Iraq would not make it possible for me to continue my role as a Deputy Legal Adviser or my work more generally. For example in the context of the International Criminal Court, negotiations on the crime of aggression begin again this year. I am therefore discussing with Alan Charlton whether I may take approved early retirement. In case that is not possible this letter should be taken as constituting notice of my resignation.

3. I joined the Office in 1974. It has been a privilege to work here. I leave with very great sadness.

In contrast, yesterday’s performance by Tony Blair reminded many of us why we were so glad to see the back of him, and why the former PM’s absolute certainties — which always appeared to become more pronounced, the more opposition he encountered — provide absolutely no reason for him to get away with his key role in a criminal invasion that has led to the loss of so many lives. After a nervous start, his one-dimensional Manichean certainty about the world resurfaced, to the extent that he refused to apologize for anything, and, instead, encouraged the Inquiry to imagine how terrible the world would be if Saddam Hussein were still in power, and even began sabre-rattling with regard to Iran.

In an editorial today, the Guardian has captured much of Blair’s madness, even if the editors refused to use that particular term:

There is a planet, some way removed from the real one, on which Tony Blair lives. He invited the Chilcot Inquiry to join him on it yesterday. On this alternative earth, certainties dissolve and falsehoods become truths. Facts are transformed into opinions and judgments turn into evidence. Success and failure are both the same. On this strange planet, the invasion of Iraq was not a disaster, but a necessary and even heroic act. Other witnesses to Chilcot have admitted error. Mr Blair simply said he would invade Iraq all over again.

His appearance yesterday at the Iraq inquiry was fascinating not so much for any facts it revealed as for the disturbing insight it gave into his mentality. This came out most strongly in a potent final few minutes. Invited to express regret, in front of relatives of soldiers who had died in the conflict, Mr Blair admitted only to responsibility. He even suggested the military should feel “a sense of pride and achievement.” This chilling way of thinking, much more than any reading of international law or mistaken intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, is why Britain went to war with America in Iraq. It is a stark Manichean view. To Mr Blair, there are nice guys and bad ones, good values and evil, and it matters very much which side you are on. His target was Iraq, now it is Iran, as he freely and repeatedly said yesterday.

Should the Chilcot Inquiry have given Tony Blair a harder time? I certainly think so, but while the protestors who, exhausted by six hours of evasion, finally shouted out that Blair was a liar and a murderer, I remain grimly fascinated by Blair’s certainty. Does he really have no doubts? Is there no corner of his being that shudders at all the death he unleashed? To this extent, my feelings about the Inquiry reflect comments made to Channel 4’s Iraq Inquiry Blogger by an unidentified witness to the Inquiry, who explained:

The run-up to the war was an ancient Greek tragedy where the principal actor was brought down by his strengths as much as his weaknesses. For example, his convictions and interpersonal skills enabled him single-handedly to succeed in persuading Bush away from unilateral action (he would have overthrown Saddam whatever happened), to persuade a sceptical Security Council to issue the UNSCR 1441 ultimatum and to persuade almost all of his Cabinet to stick with him on the venture. Yet, the result destroyed his premiership and his reputation. How then did the fates conspire to produce this result? Each step seemed the right thing in his eyes at the time yet the result was tragedy. That is what I felt the inquiry needed to work through.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?”

The logo of the UNA major new report on secret detention policies around the world, conducted by four independent UN human rights experts, concludes that, “On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” and that, “If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity.”

The 226-page report, published on Wednesday in an advance unedited version, is the culmination of a year-long Joint Study by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. It will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.

The advance unedited version of the report is available here: UN Secret Detention Report.

In an introduction, the UN experts established that:

a person is kept in secret detention if State authorities acting in their official capacity, or persons acting under the orders thereof, with the authorization, consent, support or acquiescence of the State, or in any other situation where the action or omission of the detaining person is attributable to the State, deprive persons of their liberty; where the person is not permitted any contact with the outside world (“incommunicado detention”); and when the detaining or otherwise competent authority denies, refuses to confirm or deny or actively conceals the fact that the person is deprived of his/her liberty, hidden from the outside world, including, for example, family, independent lawyers or non-governmental organizations, or refuses to provide or actively conceals information about the fate or whereabouts of the detainee.

After running through the historical background to secret detention — both in a legal context, and through numerous examples from the twentieth century — the report focuses primarily on secret detention in the last nine years, providing a detailed account of US policies in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and also running through the practice of secret detention in 25 other countries, including Algeria, China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Libya, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

These sections contain valuable summaries, explaining how, in many cases, terrorism is used as a cover for secret detention policies of a political nature. However, the heart of the report is a detailed analysis of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” policies.

Of particular concern to the authors of the Joint Study — beyond the overall illegality of the entire project conceived and executed by the Bush administration — is the fate of dozens of men held in secret prisons run by the CIA, or transferred by the CIA to prisons in other countries. Based on figures disclosed in one of the Office of Legal Counsel’s notorious “torture memos” (PDF), written in May 2005 by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Bradbury, the CIA had, by May 2005, “taken custody of 94 prisoners [redacted] and ha[d] employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of these detainees.”

The 28 men subjected to “enhanced techniques” are clearly the “high-value detainees” — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Abu Zubaydah and twelve others — who were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006, but no official account has ever explained what happened to the other 14 “high-value detainees,” or, indeed, to the majority of the other 66 men.

The report also establishes that, at a minimum, many dozens of other prisoners were rendered to prisons in other countries.

In tracking these men, the report traces the development of the US secret detention program, drawing on new research into flight records to demonstrate that rendition flights, carefully disguised in the records, flew to Poland, Romania and Lithuania. The report also touches on the existence of a secret facility within Guantánamo, exposed by Scott Horton for Harper’s Magazine last week, which prompted the experts to note that they were “very concerned about the possibility that three Guantánamo detainees (Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani) might have died during interrogations at this facility, instead of in their own cells, on 9 June 2006.”

Also mentioned are two little-reported facilities in the Balkans — Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo and Eagle Base in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina — and a claim that Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean (a British territory leased to the US) was used in 2005-06 to hold Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a joint Syrian-Spanish national.

Accounting for other prisoners, the report focuses on a number of secret prisons in Afghanistan; in particular, the “Dark Prison,” the “Salt Pit,” and a secret facility within Bagram airbase. Of the 94 men mentioned by Stephen Bradbury — minus the 14 transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006 — the report establishes that eight were released, that 23 others were transferred to Guantánamo (mostly in 2004), that four escaped from Bagram in July 2005, that four others are still in Bagram (three of whom are awaiting a US appeals court ruling on their successful habeas corpus petition last March), and that five others were returned to Libya in 2006.

Ibn al-Shaykh al-LibiThese five include Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the CIA’s most notorious “ghost prisoner,” who falsely confessed, under torture in Egypt, that there were connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, which were subsequently used to justify the invasion of Iraq. After multiple renditions to other countries (which I exposed last June), al-Libi’s return to Libya came to a dark end last May, when he died under mysterious circumstances.

Discussing the other prisoners, whose current whereabouts are unexplained, the experts noted, “It is probable that some of these men have been returned to their home countries, and that others are still held in Bagram.” As I explained in an article last week, following the publication of the first ever list of prisoners held in Bagram (PDF), it appears that a handful of these men may indeed be in Bagram, but not all of them, and it is, therefore, imperative that the publication of this list leads to pressure on the Obama administration to reveal details of all the “disappeared” detainees.

The report also examines the cases of 35 men rendered by the CIA to Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Morocco, between 2001 and 2004. As with the “ghost prisoners” in Afghanistan, many of these men later surfaced in Guantánamo, or were freed, but the whereabouts of others — particularly those in Syria, and, probably, other completely unknown men rendered to Egypt — have never been disclosed, even though some of the prisoners rendered to Syria were flown there as long ago as 2002, and, in at least two cases, were only teenagers at the time.

There are also sections on secret detention in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uzbekistan, and the experts also criticized other countries for their involvement in the program, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Kenya and the UK. According to Reuters, throughout the report, 66 countries in total are implicated in one way or another in secret detention practices — either independently, or as part of the US-led “War on Terror.”

In concluding their review of US detention policies since 9/11, the experts welcomed President Obama’s commitment to revoke and repudiate many of the Bush administration’s policies, including the closure of all CIA black sites, but requested clarification “as to whether detainees were held in CIA ‘black sites’ in Iraq and Afghanistan or elsewhere when President Obama took office, and, if so, what happened to the detainees who were held at that time.” They were also “concerned that the Executive Order which instructed the CIA ‘to close any detention facilities that it currently operates’ does not extend to the facilities where the CIA detains individuals on ‘a short-term transitory basis,’” and, in the light of suggestions by Scott Horton that the secret facility at Guantánamo may have been run by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), noted that the order “does not seem to extend to detention facilities operated by” JSOC.

These were not their only concerns. Although they welcomed the implementation in August 2009 of a new policy whereby the International Committee of the Red Cross must be notified of all prisoners’ names within two weeks of capture, they noted that “there is no legal justification for this two-week period of secret detention,” because the Geneva Conventions allow only a week, and also because of their fears that some prisoners are being held who were not captured on the battlefield, and who may, as I noted in an article in September, in fact be prisoners who have been rendered to facilities outside of the military’s control (at Bagram in Afghanistan and Camp Nama in Iraq). The experts explained that they had “noted with concern news reports which quoted current government officials saying that ‘the importance of Bagram as a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq has risen under the Obama administration, which barred the Central Intelligence Agency from using its secret prisons for long-term detention.’”

The experts’ final concern was with Bagram’s new review system for prisoners. They noted that the decision to replace the existing system, which the judge in the habeas cases last March described as a process that “falls well short of what the Supreme Court found inadequate at Guantánamo,” was still inadequate. As they explained:

[T]he new review system fails to address the fact that detainees in an active war zone should be held according to the Geneva Conventions, screened close to the time and place of capture if there is any doubt about their status, and not be subjected to reviews at some point after their capture to determine whether they should continue to be held.

They were also “concerned that the system appears to specifically aim to prevent US courts from having access to foreign detainees captured in other countries and rendered to Bagram,” and, despite welcoming the release of the names of 645 prisoners at Bagram (an annotated version is here), urged the US government “to provide information on the citizenship, length of detention and place of capture of all detainees currently held within Bagram Air Base.”

While the report spreads its net wide, the US administration’s response to its findings about the Bush administration’s legacy of “disappeared” prisoners, and its focus on the gray areas of Obama’s current policies, is particularly anticipated. So far, however, there has been silence from US officials, and only the British, moaning about “unsubstantiated and irresponsible” claims, have dared to challenge their well-chronicled complicity in the secret detention policies underpinning the whole of the “War on Terror, which do not appear to have been thoroughly banished, one year after Barack Obama took office.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on Truthout.

For a sequence of articles dealing with the use of torture by the CIA, on “high-value detainees,” and in the secret prisons, see: Guantánamo’s tangled web: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Majid Khan, dubious US convictions, and a dying man (July 2007), Jane Mayer on the CIA’s “black sites,” condemnation by the Red Cross, and Guantánamo’s “high-value” detainees (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) (August 2007), Waterboarding: two questions for Michael Hayden about three “high-value” detainees now in Guantánamo (February 2008), Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now? And What About the Torture? (February 2008), The Insignificance and Insanity of Abu Zubaydah: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Confirms FBI’s Doubts (April 2008), Guantánamo Trials: Another Torture Victim Charged (Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, July 2008), Secret Prison on Diego Garcia Confirmed: Six “High-Value” Guantánamo Prisoners Held, Plus “Ghost Prisoner” Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (August 2008), Will the Bush administration be held accountable for war crimes? (December 2008), The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One) and The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part Two) (December 2008), Prosecuting the Bush Administration’s Torturers (March 2009), Abu Zubaydah: The Futility Of Torture and A Trail of Broken Lives (March 2009), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part One), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part Two), 9/11 Commission Director Philip Zelikow Condemns Bush Torture Program, Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah?, CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months before DoJ Approval, Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The Al-Qaeda-Iraq Torture Story Is A New Low (all April 2009), Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi Has Died In A Libyan Prison , Dick Cheney And The Death Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, The “Suicide” Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi: Why The Media Silence?, Two Experts Cast Doubt On Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s “Suicide”, Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney On Use Of Torture To Invade Iraq, In the Guardian: Death in Libya, betrayal by the West (in the Guardian here), Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney’s Iraq Lies Again (And Rumsfeld And The CIA) (all May 2009) and WORLD EXCLUSIVE: New Revelations About The Torture Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (June 2009), The Logic of the 9/11 Trials, The Madness of the Military Commissions (November 2009), UK Judges Compare Binyam Mohamed’s Torture To That Of Abu Zubaydah (November 2009). Also see the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

For other stories discussing the use of torture in secret prisons, see: An unreported story from Guantánamo: the tale of Sanad al-Kazimi (August 2007), Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo (September 2008), A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008), Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story (March 2009), When Torture Kills: Ten Murders In US Prisons In Afghanistan (July 2009), US Torture Under Scrutiny In British Courts (July 2009), What The British Government Knew About The Torture Of Binyam Mohamed (August 2009), Torture in Bagram and Guantánamo: The Declaration of Ahmed al-Darbi (September 2009), UK Judges Order Release Of Details About The Torture Of Binyam Mohamed By US Agents (October 2009), “Model Prisoner” at Guantánamo, Tortured in the “Dark Prison,” Loses Habeas Corpus Petition (December 2009), Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List (January 2010), and also see the extensive Binyam Mohamed archive.

And for other stories discussing torture at Guantánamo and/or in “conventional” US prisons in Afghanistan, see: The testimony of Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes: includes allegations of previously unreported murders in the US prison at Bagram airbase (August 2007), Guantánamo Transcripts: “Ghost” Prisoners Speak After Five And A Half Years, And “9/11 hijacker” Recants His Tortured Confession (September 2007), The Trials of Omar Khadr, Guantánamo’s “child soldier” (November 2007), Former US interrogator Damien Corsetti recalls the torture of prisoners in Bagram and Abu Ghraib (December 2007), Guantánamo’s shambolic trials (February 2008), Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials (March 2008), Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo (April 2008), Former Guantánamo Prosecutor Condemns “Chaotic” Trials in Case of Teenage Torture Victim (Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld on Mohamed Jawad, January 2009), Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child (Mohammed El-Gharani, January 2009), Bush Era Ends With Guantánamo Trial Chief’s Torture Confession (Susan Crawford on Mohammed al-Qahtani, January 2009), Forgotten in Guantánamo: British Resident Shaker Aamer (March 2009), A Child At Guantánamo: The Unending Torment of Mohamed Jawad (June 2009), Torture In Guantánamo: The Force-feeding Of Hunger Strikers (June 2009), As Judge Orders Release Of Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner, Government Refuses To Concede Defeat (Mohamed Jawad, July 2009), Torture And Futility: Is This The End Of The Military Commissions At Guantánamo? (September 2009), A Truly Shocking Guantánamo Story: Judge Confirms That An Innocent Man Was Tortured To Make False Confessions (Fouad al-Rabiah, September 2009), UK Court Orders Release Of Torture Evidence In The Case Of Shaker Aamer, The Last British Resident In Guantánamo (December 2009), Shaker Aamer: UK Government Drops Opposition To Release Of Torture Evidence (December 2009), Afghan Nobody Faces Trial by Military Commission (January 2010), Murders at Guantánamo: Scott Horton of Harper’s Exposes the Truth about the 2006 “Suicides” (January 2010), Two Algerian Torture Victims Are Freed from Guantánamo (January 2010), and the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

The Guantánamo Files: An Archive of Articles – Part Three, July to December 2008

The Guantanamo Files

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For four years, I have been providing detailed information about the prisoners in Guantánamo, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, which tells the story of the prison and around 450 of the prisoners held, and then through 12 online chapters, which provide information about the majority of the other 329 prisoners. Alongside this project, I have been working assiduously as a full-time independent journalist, covering stories as they develop, and focusing in particular on the stories of released prisoners, the Military Commission trial system, and the prisoners’ progress in the courts, through their habeas corpus petitions.

My intention, all along, has been to bring the men to life through their stories, dispelling the Bush administration’s rhetoric about the prison holding “the worst of the worst,” and demonstrating how, instead, the majority of the prisoners were either innocent men, seized by the US military’s allies at a time when bounty payments were widespread, or recruits for the Taliban, who had been encouraged by supporters in their homelands to help the Taliban in a long-running inter-Muslim civil war (with the Northern Alliance), which began long before the 9/11 attacks and, for the most part, had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism. As I explained in the introduction to my four-part Definitive Prisoner List (updated on January 1), I remain convinced, through detailed research and through comments from insiders with knowledge of Guantánamo, that “at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total” had no involvement with terrorism.

However, as this is a blog, rather than a website, I recognize that it’s increasingly difficult to navigate, as there are so many “Categories,” and, most crucially, there is no access to articles in anything other than reverse chronological order. In an attempt to remedy this shortcoming, and to provide easy access to the most important articles on the site, I’ve put together five chronological lists, covering the periods May to December 2007, January to June 2008, July to December 2008, January to June 2009 and July to December 2009, in the hope that they will provide a useful tool for navigation.

In the period covered by this third part of the list, I continued writing for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, CounterPunch, Antiwar.com and AlterNet (and also began working with ZNet), and left Reprieve, the legal action charity whose lawyers represent dozens of Guantánamo prisoners, in October, to concentrate on my writing. I picked up some work for Cageprisoners and The Raw Story (especially an overlooked story of the number of juveniles held in Guantánamo), continued my association with the Daily Star, Lebanon, and also started writing a weekly column for the Future of Freedom Foundation. I also contributed guest columns to Juan Cole’s Informed Comment and to the British site, Liberal Conspiracy.

The three dominant themes of this period were the prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions (authorized by the Supreme Court in June), the US presidential elections, and the ongoing collapse of the Military Commissions. One of Guantánamo’s Uighur prisoners (Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province) won a resounding appeals court victory at the start of this period, which led to the government abandoning all attempts to claim that the 17 Uighurs were “enemy combatants,” persuading Judge Ricardo Urbina to order their release into the United States in October. This was resisted by the Bush administration, but in November another judge ordered five out of six Algerians seized in Bosnia-Herzegovina to be released, and at the end of the year, 22 out of 23 habeas petitions had been granted.

On the election trail, I followed Barack Obama’s progress, taking hope from his stated opposition to the Bush administration’s policies regarding Guantánamo and the “War on Terror,” and delivering two articles presenting the problems with Guantánamo in the weeks following his victory.

In my coverage of the Military Commissions, I watched closely as Salim Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, was convicted in a Pyrrhic victory for the government, which led to his release from Guantánamo in November, and also watched as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed seized two opportunities to usurp the trial system’s faltering authority. Also of significance was a one-sided trial for al-Qaeda member Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, and the machinations behind the scenes, which I covered in a series of articles, focused primarily on one of my favorite articles, “The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials.”

I also covered in detail an unprecedented court case in the UK involving the British resident Binyam Mohamed, reported on the stories of the 21 prisoners released during this period, reported new revelations about the use of Diego Garcia for a secret prison, and kept an eye on the bleak story of US “enemy combatant” Ali al-Marri. As the year ended, I published an article on the history of music torture in the “War on Terror,” which received worldwide attention, published a detailed, two-part analysis of “The Lies of Dick Cheney” and an interview with the Guantánamo whistleblower, Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, and asked whether, in the wake of a critical report by the Senate Armed Services Committee, senior Bush administration officials would be held accountable for war crimes.

An archive of Guantánamo articles: Part Three, July to December 2008

July 2008

1. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: Guantánamo as Alice in Wonderland (Uighurs)
2. Military Commissions: Guantánamo Trials: Another Torture Victim Charged (Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri)
3. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Repatriation as Russian Roulette: Will the Two Algerians Freed from Guantánamo Be Treated Fairly?
4. Diego Garcia: Scandal of Diego Garcia rendition flights strains US-UK relations
5. Omar Khadr: “Screwed up” and “abused”: Omar Khadr’s Canadian interrogations at Guantánamo
6. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: What’s Happening with the Guantánamo cases?
Ali al-Marri7. US enemy combatants: Court Confirms President’s Dictatorial Powers in Case of US “Enemy Combatant” Ali al-Marri
8. Omar Khadr: Moazzam Begg recalls the suffering of Omar Khadr
9. Film reviews: Film review: Standard Operating Procedure
10. Military Commissions: Folly and Injustice: Salim Hamdan’s Guantánamo Trial
11. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Three prisoners released from Guantánamo, including the brother of US “enemy combatant” Ali al-Marri
12. Sami al-Haj: An interview with Sami al-Haj, former Guantánamo prisoner and al-Jazeera journalist

August 2008

13. Diego Garcia: Secret Prison on Diego Garcia Confirmed: Six “High-Value” Guantánamo Prisoners Held, Plus “Ghost Prisoner” Mustafa Setmariam Nasar
14. Diego Garcia: Diego Garcia: the UK’s shame (in the Guardian)
15. Binyam Mohamed: Binyam Mohamed’s judicial review: judges grill British agent and question fairness of Guantánamo trials
Salim Hamdan16. Military Commissions: A critical overview of Salim Hamdan’s Guantánamo trial and the dubious verdict
17. Military Commissions: Salim Hamdan’s sentence signals the end of Guantánamo
18. Video: TV and radio: Andy Worthington responds to the verdict in Salim Hamdan’s Guantánamo trial
19. Military Commissions: Salim Hamdan’s sentence at Guantánamo: a military juror speaks
20. Military Commissions: The Media’s Response to the Hamdan Trial: Due Process or Dictatorial Sideshow?
21. Deaths in Guantánamo: NCIS Statement on the Guantánamo Suicides of June 2006
22. Deaths in Guantánamo: Guantánamo Suicide Report: Truth or Travesty?
23. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Clearing Out Guantánamo: Two More Algerians Transferred
Binyam Mohamed24. Binyam Mohamed: High Court rules against UK and US in case of Guantánamo torture victim Binyam Mohamed

September 2008

25. George W. Bush: Bush’s proposed terror legacy: a legal basis for perpetual war
26. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo
27. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Two Afghans released from Guantánamo: a farmer and a teenager
28. Military Commissions: Controversy still plagues Guantánamo’s Military Commissions
29. Binyam Mohamed: In a plea from Guantánamo, Binyam Mohamed talks of “betrayal” by the UK
30. George W. Bush: Bush’s bitter legacy (in the Guardian)
31. Military Commissions: Guantánamo trials: another insignificant Afghan charged
Omar Khadr in 2008 (court sketch by Janet Hamlin)32. Omar Khadr: Seized at 15, Omar Khadr turns 22 in Guantánamo
33. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: Guantánamo: Government Says Six Years Is Not Long Enough To Prepare Evidence
34. Military Commissions: Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Running the 9/11 Trials?
35. US election: Obama and McCain shirk discussion of Guantánamo and executive overreach
36. US election: A Message to Barack Obama: Don’t Forget Cheney and Addington

October 2008

37. Military Commissions: The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials
38. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Seized In Pakistan, Two 50 Year Olds Are Released From Guantánamo
39. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: From Guantánamo to the United States: The Story of the Wrongly Imprisoned Uighurs
40. Military Commissions: New Evidence of Systemic Bias in Guantánamo Trials
41. Torture: Newly released Guantánamo manual confirms use of banned techniques
42. Binyam Mohamed: US Justice Department drops “dirty bomb plot” allegation against Binyam Mohamed
43. Torture: The trail of torture (CIA torture revelations, in the Guardian)
44. Uighur prisoners: Guantánamo Uyghurs’ resettlement prospects skewered by Justice Department lies
45. Uighur prisoners: A Pastor’s Plea for the Guantánamo Uyghurs
46. Omar Khadr: Omar Khadr: The Guantánamo Files (how advice on the treatment of juveniles was ignored)
47. Military Commissions: Guantánamo’s bleak farce (Military Commission charges dropped against Binyam Mohamed and others, in the Guardian)
48. Binyam Mohamed: Contempt of court (more on Binyam Mohamed’s UK court case, in the Guardian)
49. Diego Garcia: Diego Garcia: no return to “torture island” (Law Lords turn their backs on the Chagos Islanders)
50. Military Commissions: Meltdown at the Guantánamo Trials
51. Omar Khadr: The Collapse of Omar Khadr’s Guantánamo Trial
Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, in a 2004 courtroom sketch52. Military Commissions: An Empty Trial at Guantánamo (Ali Hamza al-Bahlul)
53. Uighur prisoners: Guantánamo: Justice Delayed or Justice Denied?
54. Military Commissions: Corruption at Guantánamo: Military Commissions Under Investigation
55. Binyam Mohamed: Torture cannot be hidden forever (police to investigate MI5’s actions)

November 2008

56. Uighur prisoners: Guantánamo Uighurs: Sabin Willett’s letter to the Justice Department
57. Return to torture: Treachery at Guantánamo (attempts to forcibly repatriate prisoners protected by court orders)
58. US election: Silence on war crimes as the US election campaign ends
59. Military Commissions: Life sentence for al-Qaeda propagandist fails to justify Guantánamo trials (Ali Hamza al-Bahlul)
60. US election: A bright new day – but what now, President Obama? (Obama’s election victory)
61. Binyam Mohamed: Guilt By Torture: Binyam Mohamed’s Transatlantic Quest for Justice
62. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Release of three prisoners highlights failures of Guantánamo (a Kazakh, a Somali and a Tajik)
63. Guantánamo guards: On Veterans Day, my correspondence with Brandon Neely, Iraq war resister and former Guantánamo guard
64. Closing Guantánamo: Why Guantánamo Must Be Closed: Advice for Barack Obama
65. Military Commissions: 20 Reasons To Shut Down The Guantánamo Trials (studies of the 20 prisoners facing charges)
66. Closing Guantánamo: How Guantánamo Can Be Closed: More Advice for Barack Obama
Fouad al-Rabiah, one of the two Kuwaitis charged67. Military Commissions: More Dubious Charges in the Guantánamo Trials (two Kuwaitis charged)
68. Children in Guantánamo: The Pentagon Can’t Count: 22 Juveniles Held at Guantánamo
69. Children in Guantánamo: Trampling The Rights Of The Child: The Treatment Of Juveniles In Guantánamo
70. Salim Hamdan: Bin Laden’s Driver To Be Released From Guantánamo; Government Defeated
71. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: After 7 Years, Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo Kidnap Victims (Bosnian Algerians, kidnapped in January 2002)
72. Salim Hamdan: The End of Guantánamo (the implications of Hamdan’s release)

December 2008

73. Military Commissions: Torture, Preventive Detention and the Terror Trials At Guantánamo
74. US enemy combatants: The Last US Enemy Combatant: The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri
75. Closing Guantánamo: Obama and Holder must return to a September 10th mind-set (for Informed Comment)
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in December 200876. Military Commissions: Is The 9/11 Trial Confession An Al-Qaeda Propaganda Coup?
77. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Lost In Guantánamo: The Faisalabad 16
78. Military Commissions: Relatives of 9/11 Victims Condemn Shameful and Unconstitutional Guantánamo Trials
79. Torture: A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror”
80. Closing Guantánamo: Will Europe Take The Cleared Guantánamo Prisoners?
81. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Freed Bosnian Calls Guantánamo the “worst place in the world”
82. Guantánamo whistleblowers: An interview with Guantánamo whistleblower Stephen Abraham (Part One)
83. Torture: Will the Bush administration be held accountable for war crimes?
84. Binyam Mohamed: Is Robert Gates Guilty of Perjury in Guantánamo Torture Case?
85. Dick Cheney: The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One)
86. Dick Cheney: The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part Two)
87. Guantánamo whistleblowers: An interview with Guantánamo whistleblower Stephen Abraham (Part Two)

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” – BFI screening, London, Saturday February 27, 2010

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo - entry from the BFI programmeOn Saturday February 27, 2010, at 2 pm, the BFI (the British Film Institute) is screening the new Guantánamo documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” in NFT2 (the National Film Theatre). Tickets are £5 and can be booked here. A map and directions are here.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session, featuring former Guantánamo prisoners Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes (profiled in the Guardian last Friday), Gareth Peirce, Shaker’s UK solicitor, and the film’s directors, filmmaker Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, journalist and author of The Guantánamo Files. The Q&A will be chaired by Victoria Brittain, journalist and playwright.

“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” tells the story of the prison by focusing in particular on the stories of three men. One is Omar Deghayes, and another is Binyam Mohamed, who was released in February 2009, but the film has a particular relevance right now because the third man, Shaker Aamer, is still held, despite being cleared for release in 2007, and despite the British government asking for him to be returned to the UK in August 2007.

The event at the BFI will focus specifically on Shaker’s plight, and the Q&A will be followed by an extended opportunity for viewers of the film to engage with the participants to discuss further action. This will take place in a separate room, where there will be refreshments, and a number of stalls providing further information, run by Cageprisoners (from whom Moazzam Begg is the director), the Guantanamo Justice Centre (for whom Omar Deghayes is the legal director), HHUGS (Helping Households Under Great Stress), the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and other organizations tbc.

Why Shaker Aamer’s story is particularly relevant right now

Shaker Aamer and two of his childrenBorn in Saudi Arabia, Shaker Aamer moved to the UK in 1994, and was a legal British resident at the time of his capture, after he had traveled to Afghanistan with Moazzam Begg (and their families) to establish a girls’ school and some well-digging projects. He has a British wife and four British children (although he has never seen his youngest child).

As the foremost advocate of the prisoners’ rights in Guantánamo, Shaker’s influence upset the US authorities to such an extent that those pressing for his return fear that the US government wants to return him to Saudi Arabia, the country of his birth, where he will not be at liberty to tell his story, and recent revelations indicate that, despite claims that it has been doing all in its power to secure his release, the British government may also share this view.

Last month, it emerged in a court case in the UK that British agents witnessed his abuse while he was held in US custody in Afghanistan, and just last week, for Harper’s Magazine, law professor Scott Horton reported that he was tortured in Guantánamo on the same night, in June 2006, that three other men appear to have been killed by representatives of an unknown US agency, and that a cover-up then took place, which successfully passed the deaths off as suicides.

Please come along to watch the film, and to discuss what steps we can all take to put pressure on the British government to demand the return of Shaker Aamer to the UK, to be reunited with his family. To get involved now, please visit this Amnesty International action page, to find details of how you can write to David Miliband and Gordon Brown, asking them to demand Shaker’s return. Please also visit this page for a video of Shaker’s daughter Johina handing in a letter to Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street on January 11, 2010.

About the film

“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a new documentary film, directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, telling the story of Guantánamo (and including sections on extraordinary rendition and secret prisons) with a particular focus on how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws, how prisoners were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening (and often for bounty payments), and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism (as missionaries or humanitarian aid workers, for example).

The film is based around interviews with former prisoners (Moazzam Begg and, in his first major interview, Omar Deghayes, who was released in December 2007), lawyers for the prisoners (Clive Stafford Smith in the UK and Tom Wilner in the US), and journalist and author Andy Worthington, and also includes appearances from Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, Shakeel Begg, a London-based Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

Focusing on the stories of Shaker Aamer, Binyam Mohamed and Omar Deghayes, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.

Recent feedback

“The film was great — not because I was in it, but because it told the legal and human story of Guantánamo more clearly than anything I have seen.”
Tom Wilner, US attorney who represented the Guantánamo prisoners before the US Supreme Court

“The film was fantastic! It has the unique ability of humanizing those who were detained at Guantánamo like no other I have seen.”
Sari Gelzer, Truthout

“Engaging and moving, and personal. The first [film] to really take you through the lives of the men from their own eyes.”
Debra Sweet, The World Can’t Wait

“I am part of a community of folks from the US who attempted to visit the Guantánamo prison in December 2005, and ended up fasting for a number of days outside the gates. We went then, and we continue our work now, because we heard the cries for justice from within the prison walls. As we gathered tonight as a community, we watched “Outside the Law,” and by the end, we all sat silent, many with tears in our eyes and on our faces. I have so much I’d like to say, but for now I wanted to write a quick note to say how grateful we are that you are out, and that you are speaking out with such profound humanity. I am only sorry what we can do is so little, and that so many remain in the prison.”
Matt Daloisio, Witness Against Torture

For further information, interviews, or to inquire about broadcasting, distributing or showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” please contact Polly Nash or Andy Worthington.

“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a Spectacle Production (74 minutes, 2009), and copies of the DVD are now available. As featured on Democracy Now!, ABC News and Truthout. See here for videos of the Q&A session (with Moazzam Begg, Omar Deghayes, Andy Worthington and Polly Nash) that followed the launch of the film in London on October 21, 2009.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

The Guantánamo Files: An Archive of Articles – Part Two, January to June 2008

The Guantanamo Files

Please support my work!

For four years, I have been providing detailed information about the prisoners in Guantánamo, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, which tells the story of the prison and around 450 of the prisoners held, and then through 12 online chapters, which provide information about the majority of the other 329 prisoners. Alongside this project, I have been working assiduously as a full-time independent journalist, covering stories as they develop, and focusing in particular on the stories of released prisoners, the Military Commission trial system, and the prisoners’ progress in the courts, through their habeas corpus petitions.

My intention, all along, has been to bring the men to life through their stories, dispelling the Bush administration’s rhetoric about the prison holding “the worst of the worst,” and demonstrating how, instead, the majority of the prisoners were either innocent men, seized by the US military’s allies at a time when bounty payments were widespread, or recruits for the Taliban, who had been encouraged by supporters in their homelands to help the Taliban in a long-running inter-Muslim civil war (with the Northern Alliance), which began long before the 9/11 attacks and, for the most part, had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism. As I explained in the introduction to my four-part Definitive Prisoner List (updated on January 1), I remain convinced, through detailed research and through comments from insiders with knowledge of Guantánamo, that “at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total” had no involvement with terrorism.

However, as this is a blog, rather than a website, I recognize that it’s increasingly difficult to navigate, as there are so many “Categories,” and, most crucially, there is no access to articles in anything other than reverse chronological order. In an attempt to remedy this shortcoming, and to provide easy access to the most important articles on the site, I’ve put together five chronological lists, covering the periods May to December 2007, January to June 2008, July to December 2008, January to June 2009 and July to December 2009, in the hope that they will provide a useful tool for navigation.

In the period covered by the second part of the list, I continued writing for the Huffington Post, CounterPunch and Antiwar.com, and also hooked up with the “Rights and Liberties” team at AlterNet. I also started writing occasionally for the Guardian, had a front-page story in the New York Times (with Carlotta Gall), continued writing the occasional op-ed for the Daily Star, Lebanon, and, in March, began working for Reprieve, the legal action charity whose lawyers represent dozens of Guantánamo prisoners. I also had articles published in Amnesty International’s magazines in the Netherlands and Australia, and was commissioned to write an entry about Guantánamo for the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.

This was a crucial period in Guantánamo’s history, as, in June, the Supreme Court ruled that the prisoners had constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights, paving the way for the challenges which, at the time of writing, have led to 32 out of 41 victories for the prisoners. In the months preceding this historic ruling, I continued to report the stories of the released prisoners (ten in total, including al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj, whose banned drawings attracted worldwide attention), and also kept a close eye on the stumbling progress of the Military Commissions. This was a busy time for the revived version of Dick Cheney’s terror trials, and included the filing of charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, which remains my most popular article to date.

I also exposed the lies and misinformation regarding the alleged “high-value detainee” Abu Zubaydah, continued to cover the story of the US “enemy combatants,” especially through the punitive sentence delivered to Jose Padilla, reported on cruel attempts to extradite two British residents to Spain (after their release from Guantánamo) on the basis of a non-existent connection to terrorist activities, covered the stories of some little-known prisoners (including Mohammed El-Gharani, just 14 at the time of his capture, and a number of Tunisian prisoners), and made my first ever visit to the United States, to promote The Guantánamo Files. On topics relating to the UK, I also made attempts to monitor Britain’s anti-terror laws, reported on evasions regarding the island of Diego Garcia, and took great interest in a lawsuit filed by Binyam Mohamed’s lawyers, seeking information held by the British government regarding his “extraordinary rendition” and torture.

An archive of Guantánamo articles: Part Two, January to June 2008

January 2008

1. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Who Are The Ten Saudis Just Released From Guantánamo?
2. British residents: Jamil El-Banna’s first interview since returning from Guantánamo
3. British residents: Guantánamo Britons resist Spanish extradition order
4. Guantánamo anniversary: Guantánamo: Six Years Of Injustice Need To End
5. Guantánamo anniversary: Six Years Of Guantánamo: Enough Is Enough
6. Guantánamo anniversary: The future of Guantánamo (in the Guardian)
7. Guantánamo anniversary: US military chief’s strategic call to close Guantánamo (Adm. Mike Mullen)
8. Sami al-Haj: A letter from Guantánamo (by Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj)
9. Omar Khadr: Canada’s Guantánamo torture warning shows double standards
Jose Padilla10. US enemy combatants: Why Jose Padilla’s 17-year prison sentence should shock and disgust all Americans
11. Media: BBC torture experiment replicates Guantánamo and secret prisons: how to lose your mind in 48 hours
12. Book reviews: Road From Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía
13. Uighur prisoners: Support for ex-Guantánamo detainee’s Swedish asylum claim
14. Libyan prisoners: Horror at Guantánamo: Libyan detainee infected with AIDS (Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi)

February 2008

15. Sami al-Haj: Guantánamo: Al-Jazeera’s Sami al-Haj to be released?
16. Deaths in Guantánamo: Time Runs Out for an Afghan Held by the U.S. (the death of Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, in the New York Times, with Carlotta Gall)
17. Torture: Waterboarding: two questions for Michael Hayden about three “high-value” detainees now in Guantánamo
18. Media: Scott Horton on Guantánamo and the New York Times’ Editor’s Note
19. Military Commissions: Guantánamo Trials: Where Are The Terrorists?
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 conspirators20. Military Commissions: Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now? And What About the Torture?
21. Media: Guantánamo and the New York Times: FAIR sends letter to public editor
22. Military Commissions: Torture on trial (the 9/11 trials, in the Guardian)
23. British residents: Guantánamo Britons’ Spanish extradition request: an update
24. Afghanistan: Expelled UN official criticizes Afghan policy re: Taliban – and defends ex-Guantánamo detainee
25. Diego Garcia: David Miliband admits that two “extraordinary rendition” flights refuelled at Diego Garcia: Is this a joke?
26. UK anti-terror laws: Britain’s Guantánamo: control orders renewed, as one suspect is freed
27. Interviews: The Guantánamo Files: AlterNet interviews Andy Worthington
28. Military Commissions: Guantánamo’s shambolic trials: Pentagon boss resigns, ex-chief prosecutor joins defense
29. Interviews: The Guantánamo Files: Press TV interviews Andy Worthington

March 2008

30. Guantánamo whistleblowers: Guantánamo whistleblower Stephen Abraham addresses European Parliament
Omar Deghayes, after his release from Guantanamo31. British residents: Spanish drop “inhuman” extradition request for Guantánamo Britons
32. Deaths in Guantánamo: Afghan hero who died in Guantánamo: the background to the story (more on Abdul Razzaq Hekmati)
33. Closing Guantánamo: Why Guantánamo Must Be Closed
34. Military Commissions: Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials
35. US tour: The Guantánamo Files: Andy Worthington’s US tour report
36. Uighur prisoners: A Chinese Muslim’s desperate plea from Guantánamo
37. Military Commissions: As a sixth “high-value detainee” is charged at Guantánamo, disturbing evidence surfaces (Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani)

April 2008

38. Moroccan prisoners: Cleared but still held in Guantánamo: Moroccan prisoner Said al-Boujaadia
A drawing by Sami al-Haj, banned by the US authorities, and drawn from a description of it by British artist Lewis Peake39. Sami al-Haj: Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo
40. Military Commissions: The US military’s shameless propaganda over Guantánamo’s 9/11 trials
41. Mohammed El-Gharani: Guantánamo’s forgotten child: the sad story of Mohammed El-Gharani
42. Abu Zubaydah: The Insignificance and Insanity of Abu Zubaydah: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Confirms FBI’s Doubts
43. Video: The Guantánamo Files: Al-Jazeera interviews Murat Kurnaz, Andy Worthington

May 2008

44. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Sami al-Haj released from Guantánamo
45. Video: Sami al-Haj speaks, appeals for fellow prisoners in Guantánamo
46. Video: Sami al-Haj: “Torture is terrorism”
47. Interviews: The Guantánamo Files: al-Istiqamah interviews Andy Worthington
48. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Who are the prisoners released from Guantánamo with Sami al-Haj?
49. Sami al-Haj: The journey from Guantánamo: One final indignity for Sami al-Haj
50. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Who are the Afghans just released from Guantánamo?
Binyam Mohamed51. Binyam Mohamed: Guantánamo: Torture victim Binyam Mohamed sues British government for evidence
52. Recidivism: Identification of ex-Guantánamo suicide bomber unleashes Pentagon propaganda
53. Military Commissions: Betrayals, backsliding and boycotts: the continuing collapse of Guantánamo’s Military Commissions
54. Military Commissions: Guantánamo trial delayed: judge invokes pending Supreme Court decision
55. Military Commissions: Fact Sheet: The 16 Prisoners Charged in Guantánamo’s Trials
56. Binyam Mohamed: Binyam Mohamed’s letter from Guantánamo to Gordon Brown
57. Deaths in Guantánamo: The forgotten anniversary of a Guantánamo suicide (Abdul Rahman al-Amri)

June 2008

58. Military Commissions: Guantánamo trials: critical judge sacked, British torture victim charged (Binyam Mohamed and three others)
59. Military Commissions: Afghan fantasist to face trial at Guantánamo
60. Military Commissions: 9/11 trials: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed speaks of martyrdom and torture
61. Binyam Mohamed: UK court grants judicial review over torture allegations, as US files official charges
62. Binyam Mohamed: Binyam Mohamed embarks on hunger strike to protest Guantánamo charges
63. Military Commissions: In a legal otherworld, 9/11 trial defendants cry torture at Guantánamo
64. Deaths in Guantánamo: Second anniversary of triple suicide at Guantánamo
65. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: The Supreme Court’s Guantánamo ruling: what does it mean?
66. Media: Report on ex-Guantánamo prisoners reveals systematic abuse and chronic failures of intelligence (the McClatchy Newspapers report)
67. US election: John McCain, Torture Puppet: Senator Ignores Mounting Evidence of Torture and Abuse in “War on Terror” Prisons, including Guantánamo
68. Uighur prisoners: Former Guantánamo prisoner denied asylum in Sweden
Adel al-Hakeemy, one of the Tunisians in Guantanamo who used to live in Italy69. Tunisian prisoners: Italy’s Forgotten Residents in Guantánamo
70. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: Six Years Late, Court Throws Out Guantánamo Case (Uighurs)

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

The Guantánamo Files: An Archive of Articles – Part One, May to December 2007

The Guantanamo Files

Please support my work!

For four years, I have been providing detailed information about the prisoners in Guantánamo, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, which tells the story of the prison and around 450 of the prisoners held, and then through 12 online chapters, which provide information about the majority of the other 329 prisoners. Alongside this project, I have been working assiduously as a full-time independent journalist, covering stories as they develop, and focusing in particular on the stories of released prisoners, the Military Commission trial system, and the prisoners’ progress in the courts, through their habeas corpus petitions.

My intention, all along, has been to bring the men to life through their stories, dispelling the Bush administration’s rhetoric about the prison holding “the worst of the worst,” and demonstrating how, instead, the majority of the prisoners were either innocent men, seized by the US military’s allies at a time when bounty payments were widespread, or recruits for the Taliban, who had been encouraged by supporters in their homelands to help the Taliban in a long-running inter-Muslim civil war (with the Northern Alliance), which began long before the 9/11 attacks and, for the most part, had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism. As I explained in the introduction to my four-part Definitive Prisoner List (updated on January 1), I remain convinced, through detailed research and through comments from insiders with knowledge of Guantánamo, that “at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total” had no involvement with terrorism.

However, as this is a blog, rather than a website, I recognize that it’s increasingly difficult to navigate, as there are so many “Categories,” and, crucially, there is no easy access to articles in anything other than reverse chronological order. In an attempt to remedy this shortcoming, I’ve put together five chronological lists, covering the periods May to December 2007, January to June 2008, July to December 2008, January to June 2009 and July to December 2009, in the hope that they will provide a useful tool for navigation. The lists primarily contain original articles, but also cover interviews and TV appearances, and the occasional cross-post of worthwhile articles from other sources.

This first part covers the first seven months of my almost accidental career as an independent journalist covering Guantánamo and related issues, when, after finishing the manuscript for The Guantánamo Files, I began writing articles about ongoing developments at Guantánamo and elsewhere in the “War on Terror,” establishing a number of contacts — with CounterPunch, the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com and Cageprisoners — that enabled me to begin developing an audience, and covering important stories that, in general, were either overlooked or underreported by the mainstream media. I also began writing the occasional op-ed for the Daily Star, Lebanon, had an article published in Index on Censorship (to coincide with the launch of The Guantánamo Files), and was delighted that the book was reviewed in the New Statesman.

Beginning with the death of a prisoner at the end of May 2007 (the fourth of six deaths to date at the prison), I followed up by covering the stories of 83 prisoners released in this period in unprecedented detail, reported on the shambolic revival of the reviled Military Commission trial system that was first introduced by former Vice President Dick Cheney in November 2001, and also championed Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a veteran of US intelligence, who had worked on the tribunals at Guantánamo (the Combatant Status Review tribunals). In an explosive affidavit in a Guantánamo case that was heading to the Supreme Court, Lt. Col. Abraham revealed that the tribunals were a sham, designed, essentially, to rubberstamp the administration’s prior designation of the prisoners as “enemy combatants” who could be held indefinitely without charge or trial. Throughout the year, new revelations reinforced his damning criticism.

In other key articles, I examined the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the stories of the British residents at Guantánamo, and the Supreme Court hearing in December 2007 that paved the way for the granting of constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights to the prisoners in June 2008, in Boumediene v. Bush. I also covered the cases of US citizen Jose Padilla and US resident Ali al-Marri, who were imprisoned and tortured as “enemy combatants” on the US mainland, examined the stories of two former juvenile prisoners — Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad — and kept a close watch on the Bush administration’s attempts to return cleared prisoners to countries where they faced ill-treatment, which happened in the cases of two Tunisians repatriated in June, and led to a significant court ruling in October. I also began, tentatively, to explore the parameters of Britain’s flawed anti-terror laws.

An archive of Guantánamo articles: Part One, May to December 2007

May/June 2007

1. Deaths in Guantánamo: Suicide at Guantánamo: the story of Abdul Rahman al-Amri
2. Deaths in Guantánamo: Suicide at Guantánamo: a response to the US military’s allegations that Abdul Rahman al-Amri was a member of al-Qaeda
3. Military Commissions: The reviled Military Commissions collapse and the pressure to close Guantánamo increases
Ali al-Marri4. US enemy combatants: The ordeal of Ali al-Marri
5. Return to torture: Cleared Guantánamo detainee Abdul Rauf al-Qassim fears return to Libya
6. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Two Tunisians and four Yemenis leave Guantánamo: at least one – Abdullah bin Omar – faces torture in his homeland
7. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Guantánamo: identities of released Yemenis revealed
8. Return to torture: The Perils of Return: Repatriated to Torture
9. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: A Tunisian in Guantánamo: the story of Lofti Lagha, Prisoner 660
10. Book review: Dick Cheney: Invisible Tyrant
11. Dick Cheney: Dick Cheney: more horrors from the ‘Vice-President for Torture’
12. Military Commissions: Guantánamo: judges deliver two more body blows to an embattled administration (trials suspended)

July 2007

13. Guantánamo whistleblowers: Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham is not the first insider to condemn the kangaroo courts
14. British residents: Shaker Aamer, A South London Man in Guantánamo: The Children Speak
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed15. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Guantánamo’s tangled web: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Majid Khan, dubious US convictions, and a dying man
16. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Who are the 16 Saudis released from Guantánamo?
17. Tajik prisoners: Tajikistan: ex-Guantánamo prisoner plans to sue President Bush
18. Conditions at Guantánamo: Guantánamo’s library: adding insult to injury
19. Recidivism: If the US administration had behaved intelligently, ex-Guantánamo inmate who blew himself up would never have been released
20. Guantánamo whistleblowers: The Guantánamo whistleblower, a Libyan shopkeeper, some Chinese Muslims and a desperate government

August 2007

21. Military Commissions: Doing The Right Thing: Guantánamo Military Commission lawyers William Kuebler and Tom Fleener speak out
22. Saudi prisoners: Saudi who suffered brain damage in Guantánamo gets married in Medina
23. Bahraini prisoners: Isolation in Guantánamo: a report on the plight of Isa al-Murbati
Ahmed Belbacha24. British residents: Return to torture: act now for Ahmed Belbacha, a British resident in Guantánamo
25. British residents: Deals with dictators undermined by British request for return of five Guantánamo detainees
26. US enemy combatants: Benamar Benatta: domestic victim of US injustice in the “War on Terror”
27. Guantánamo whistleblowers: Guantánamo: more whistleblowers condemn the tribunals
28. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Jane Mayer on the CIA’s “black sites,” condemnation by the Red Cross, and Guantánamo’s “high-value” detainees (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed)
29. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Isa al-Murbati, the last Bahraini in Guantánamo, returns home (and a former Taliban minister returns to Afghanistan)
30. Torture: An unreported story from Guantánamo: the tale of Sanad al-Kazimi
31. Afghan prisoners: The story of Abdullah Mujahid, an Afghan police chief betrayed by the US administration and wrongly sent to Guantánamo
32. Tajik prisoners: Tajiks released from Guantánamo sentenced to 17 years in prison
Omar Deghayes33. British residents: The testimony of Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes: includes allegations of previously unreported murders in the US prison at Bagram airbase
34. Military Commissions: “A lawless process”: attempts to revive Guantánamo’s reviled Military Commissions opposed by military lawyers
35. UK anti-terror laws: The troubling tale of Tunisian Belmarsh detainee Hedi Boudhiba, extradited, cleared and abandoned in Spain

September 2007

36. Return to torture: “We would rather be back in Guantánamo,” say Tunisians Abdullah bin Omar and Lofti Lagha, returned in June
37. US enemy combatants: Jose Padilla: More Sinned Against Than Sinning
38. British residents: Guantánamo detainee Ahmed Belbacha: UK government explains why it will not act to prevent his return to torture
Sami al-Haj39. Sami al-Haj: Guantánamo: al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj fears that he will die
40. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Guantánamo: The Stories Of The 16 Saudis Just Released
41. Guantánamo tribunals: Guantánamo Transcripts: “Ghost” Prisoners Speak After Five And A Half Years, And “9/11 hijacker” Recants His Tortured Confession
42. Guantánamo lawyers: Guantánamo’s ridiculous underwear saga: the full correspondence
43. Interviews: The Guantánamo Files: The Talking Dog interview
44. New arrivals: Myopic Pentagon keeps filling Guantánamo
45. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: This is justice? Senate majority votes for habeas rights for Guantánamo detainees, but loses anyway
46. Omar Khadr: Guantánamo: as child soldier Omar Khadr turns 21, US military lawyer William Kuebler criticizes Canadians for their indifference
47. Military Commissions: A bad week at Guantánamo: lawyers are denied access to detainees, and the Military Commission show trials stumble back to life
48. Military Commissions: Guantánamo: the curse of the Military Commissions strikes the prosecutors

October 2007

Mohammed al-Amin49. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: The long suffering of Mohammed al-Amin, a Mauritanian teenager sent home from Guantánamo
50. Interviews: Poetry and politics at Guantánamo: An interview with Marc Falkoff, editor of Poems From Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak
51. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: The Anonymous Victims Of Guantánamo: Eight More Wrongly Imprisoned Men Are Quietly Released (six Afghans, a Libyan and a Yemeni)
52. Military Commissions: A good week at Guantánamo: judge reinstates habeas cases, and the Military Commissions’ chief prosecutor resigns
53. Guantánamo whistleblowers: A New Guantánamo Whistleblower Steps Forward to Criticize the Tribunal Process
54. Return to torture: Judge prevents innocent Tunisian’s return to torture from Guantánamo
55. Military Commissions: The Afghan teenager put forward for trial by Military Commission at Guantánamo (Mohamed Jawad)
56. Interviews: The Guantánamo Files: Andy Worthington interviewed by Kristina Božič
57. Uighur prisoners: Guantánamo’s Uyghurs: stranded in Albania
58. Diego Garcia: Guantánamo’s ghosts and the shame of Diego Garcia
David Hicks59. Military Commissions: The politics of David Hicks’ release from Guantánamo confirmed: plea bargain arranged between Cheney and Howard
60. Deaths in Guantánamo: Guantánamo suicides: so who’s telling the truth?
61. Return to torture: “I’m innocent,” says Guantánamo detainee Lofti Lagha, sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in Tunisia

November 2007

62. UK anti-terror laws: Guantánamo as house arrest: Britain’s law lords capitulate on control orders
63. US enemy combatants: The torture of Ali al-Marri, the last “enemy combatant” on the US mainland
64. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: The Stories of Three Innocent Jordanians and an Afghan, Just Released
65. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Innocents and Foot Soldiers: The Stories of the 14 Saudis Just Released From Guantánamo
Omar Khadr66. Omar Khadr: The trials of Omar Khadr, Guantánamo’s “child soldier”
67. Guantánamo whistleblowers: Guantánamo whistleblower launches new attack on rigged tribunals
68. Uighur prisoners: Former Guantánamo detainee seeks asylum in Sweden
69. Uighur prisoners: Adel Abdul Hakim, the asylum seeker from Guantánamo: a transcript of Sabin Willett’s recent speech in Stockholm

December 2007

70. Return to torture: Out of Guantánamo, and into the fire: conviction of ex-detainee in Tunisia casts doubts on US motives
71. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: Guantánamo and the Supreme Court: the most important habeas corpus case in modern history
72. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: Guantánamo and the Supreme Court: who are Fawzi al-Odah and Lakhdar Boumediene? (for the BBC)
73. British residents: Guantánamo Britons To Be Released: A Mixed Result
74. Guantánamo and habeas corpus: Guantánamo and the Supreme Court: What Happened?
Adel Hassan Hamad and Salim Muhood Adem75. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: The Shocking Stories of the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Workers Just Released From Guantánamo
76. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Britons in Guantánamo return to UK for Eid al-Adha
77. Torture: Former US interrogator Damien Corsetti recalls the torture of prisoners in Bagram and Abu Ghraib
78. British residents: The Guantánamo Britons and Spain’s dubious extradition request
79. Military Commissions: Military judge dashes hopes that Guantánamo detainees have rights as Prisoners of War
80. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: The Stories of the Afghans Just Released from Guantánamo: Intelligence Failures, Battlefield Myths and Unaccountable Prisons in Afghanistan (Part One)
81. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: The Stories of the Afghans Just Released from Guantánamo: Intelligence Failures, Battlefield Myths and Unaccountable Prisons in Afghanistan (Part Two)

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

Bagram: The Annotated Prisoner List (A Cooperative Project)

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On Friday January 15, 2010, the Pentagon responded to a FOIA request submitted by the ACLU last April, and released (PDF) the first ever list of 645 prisoners held, as of September 22, 2009, in the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan (the Bagram Theater Internment Facility), which has been in operation for eight years.

In the hope of making the list more readily accessible — and searchable — than it is through a poorly photocopied Pentagon document, I reproduce it as a separate web page here, with commentary on some the prisoners I have been able to identify. This is very much a work-in-progress, of course, as the state of knowledge regarding Bagram is akin to that regarding Guantánamo back in 2005, before the prisoner lists and 8,000 pages of documents were released that allowed me to research and write my book The Guantánamo Files, and to begin a new career as a full-time journalist on Guantánamo and related issues.

In an article accompanying this post, “Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List,” I examined what the list — which contains only the prisoners’ names, and not their nationalities or the date and place of their capture — revealed about the small number of foreign prisoners rendered to Bagram from other countries, three of whom are currently waiting to see if the Court of Appeals will overturn the right to habeas corpus that was granted to them by Judge John D. Bates last March, and raised questions about the whereabouts of other known “ghost prisoners” who do not appear to have been included on the list.

In an article to follow, I’ll examine how the list reveals not only that around 3,000 prisoners have been held at Bagram in the last six years, but also how the majority of the prisoners listed were seized in 2008 and 2009 — and I’ll examine what this means with regard to the US administration’s detention policies and the Geneva Conventions, which were discarded by George W. Bush and have clearly not been reintroduced by Barack Obama.

Although I believe that I have had some success tracking down the stories of some of the 100 or so prisoners on the list who have been held at Bagram for between three and seven years, I have found few clues as to the identities of the majority of those listed, who, as mentioned above, were seized in the last two years. Most reports — by the US military or the media — of raids or skirmishes that led to the capture of those held have not furnished the names of those seized, and on the rare occasion that names have been provided it has tended to be because they are regarded as significant figures.

I have no idea whether the allegations against these men are true, but, more importantly, I have not failed to notice that the majority of the prisoners (often men identified by only one name) are clearly not significant figures at all, and my fear — which, I have no doubt, will be confirmed when more information emerges — is that many of them will be revealed to be victims of the same chaotic approach to the capture of prisoners that has done so much to lose the battle for the “hearts and minds” of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq for the last eight years, and which, with regard to the 218 prisoners seized in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2003 and sent to Guantánamo, I chronicled in The Guantánamo Files.

One sign that this is indeed the case was reported on NPR last August, when NPR’s Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman explained how Maj. Gen. Doug Stone had recently been sent to Afghanistan by Gen. David Petraeus, the overall commander of Afghanistan and Iraq, because he “liked the way Stone revamped the detention centers in Iraq, how he changed them for the better.” Bowman explained that Stone “went to Afghanistan with a team, interviewed detainees, visited detention facilities,” and produced a 700-page report, in which he estimated that “as many as 400 of the 600 held at Bagram can be released,” explaining that “many of these men were swept up in raids” and “have little connection to the insurgency.”

Bowman added that Maj. Gen. Stone “wants to focus on rehabilitation, just like he did in Iraq where he ran the detention system there. He had 21,000 detainees. But he found that most of these Iraqi detainees — as many as two-thirds — were not radicals, but mostly illiterate and jobless young people. Some were innocents and others worked for the insurgency because they just needed the money. And Stone worried that detaining them was only making matters worse, actually turning them into radicals.”

As Stone explained to NPR at the time:

Now you’ve got a bunch of moderates who really shouldn’t be in there in the first place. And I can hold them forever, but eventually they’re going to say, “Why are you holding me? What’s the fairness in this?” And eventually they’ll say something about America that we don’t want to hear. They’re going to say, “Wait a minute, you’re not here to better the population, you’re here to conquer us and you’re taking me hostage.”

If you have any further information about any of the men on this list, please feel free to email me, and I will incorporate the information into the list.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

Cross-posted on The Public Record, Common Dreams, After Downing Street, The World Can’t Wait, United Progressives, Roger Hollander, Uruknet and Infowars. Mentioned on Antiwar.com, The Smirking Chimp, Op-Ed News and Strike the Root. It was also “Website of the Day” on CounterPunch.

Two Algerian Torture Victims Are Freed from Guantánamo

A guard at GuantanamoOn Friday, perhaps as a sop to critics — myself included — who have been complaining about President Obama’s failure to close Guantánamo by his self-imposed deadline of January 22, 2010, the Justice Department announced in a press release that two Algerian prisoners had been released.

Releasing prisoners to Algeria has always been a dubious business, akin to Russian roulette, as I explained when two men were released by the Bush administration in July 2008, because there appears to be no way of knowing whether these men will be released on their return or imprisoned and subjected to trials that fail to meet internationally recognized standards of fairness and objectivity.

As a result, frustratingly little is known about the eight Algerians repatriated from Guantánamo between July 2008 and January 2009, although one indication of how the Algerian justice system deals with returned Guantánamo prisoners was provided in November 2009, when the BBC reported that, 15 months after two of these men were repatriated, they had been acquitted after a trial in which the prosecutor had called for prison sentences of 20 years.

The stories of the two men released last week deserve to be heard, because, as so often with Guantánamo, they reveal how shockingly misplaced is the still prevalent rhetoric regarding Guantánamo’s role as a repository for the “worst of the worst” terrorists. Just as disturbingly, their stories also reveal how two men, who were unconnected to terrorism, were nevertheless tortured in an attempt to make them admit that they were.

Ahcene Zemiri: wrong place, wrong time (in Canada and Afghanistan)

Ahcene ZemiriThe first of the men released last week, Ahcene Zemiri (identified on his release as Hasan Zemiri), was born in Algiers on September 8, 1967, the youngest of ten children. At the age of 20, having completed his two years of mandatory military service, and finding no prospects for work in Algeria, he moved to France, where, for several years, he and his brother made money exporting electrical goods to Algeria.

In 1994, he moved to Canada, settling in Montreal, where he met his future wife, Karina. The couple married in May 1996, but life was difficult for Zemiri. Unable to find work, he hung out with other Algerian expatriates, including one man, Ahmed Ressam, whose future activities were to have a profound effect on Zemiri’s life. In December 1999, Ressam was seized as he arrived in the United States, and was charged with planning a terrorist attack on Los Angeles International Airport (the so-called “Millennium Plot.”). After a trial in 2005, he received a 22-year prison sentence.

Neither Zemiri nor the rest of his friends had any idea about the plot, but after his conviction, and before he was sentenced, when he was apparently exploited to make confessions in exchange for a sentence less than the 130 years that was proposed to him, Ressam claimed that Zemiri had lent him $3,500 and a camera in connection with the plot. Ressam recanted this claim in December 2006, sending a letter to the judge who had sentenced him, explaining that Zemiri had “no relation or connection to the operation I was about to carry out” and that he “didn’t know anything about it and he did not assist me in anything.” As Zemiri’s attorneys added, he also declared that his statements “had been misconstrued and were made under the severe psychological duress of an FBI interrogation and in the face of a lengthy prison sentence.” Nevertheless, the false claims were to haunt Zemiri for the next nine years.

First, Zemiri and his compatriots were repeatedly questioned by Canadian intelligence agents and the police. Zemiri himself was never arrested, but some of his friends were, and a few later fled the country. In early 2001, after being questioned about whether it would be safe for President Bush to visit Canada, Zemiri became convinced that he would be deported to Algeria, and that, if returned, his decade of globe-trotting in the West would not play well with Islamist groups in his homeland.

As a result, having been sold a rosy picture of Afghanistan by a friend, he decided to travel there with Karina, intending to establish himself and raise a family. Arriving in Jalalabad in August 2001, they lived in a house owned by an Algerian/Swedish family who had returned to Sweden, in an Algerian neighborhood that was relatively clean and safe. The house had electricity, water, and a walled compound, and although many Taliban lived in the area, it was also home to Europeans, Australians, Uzbeks and Chechens, and the offices of the UN, Médecins Sans Frontières and Oxfam were also nearby.

Nevertheless, the decision to relocate to Afghanistan was clearly a foolish dream. Zemiri “disliked Afghanistan,” as his attorneys stated in a court submission in October 2007. His wife explained that he had become used to Western society, and the poverty was too much for him. She “thought that he would make it a year, at most, before deciding that they should move elsewhere.”

The US-led invasion in October 2001 changed everything, of course, although the couple stayed put until the cities in northern Afghanistan fell, and the country was no longer safe for Arabs and other foreigners. Splitting up, for reasons of safety, Karina escaped to Pakistan, and then to Canada, where she gave birth to their son, Karim, on June 17, 2002, but her husband was less fortunate.

After hooking up with a group of around 200 mostly Arab men, who were seeking to leave the country, Zemiri — wearing the Hugo Boss suit that he had brought with him — found himself caught up on the fringes of the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains, who were preparing for a final showdown with the US military’s proxy Afghan army, until two Afghan guides showed up, offering, for a price, to lead the men to safety in Pakistan.

Around 60 of the group accepted, but as they made their way through a valley, they were spotted by a US plane, and targeted in a bombing raid. One of the men, Ghanim al-Harbi, a Saudi, later explained that “40 of the Arabs with me were killed and 20 were injured,” and many of the survivors, including Zemiri, ended up in Guantánamo.

With a broken arm, Zemiri made it to an Afghan village after the raid, but was sold to Northern Alliance troops just a few days later. Soon after, he was sold to US forces, and, according to the court submission, was held in Kabul — possibly, for a brief spell, in the CIA’s notorious “Dark Prison” — and Kandahar before being flown to Guantánamo in April or May 2002. In statements to his attorneys, he explained that, while in custody in Afghanistan, he was “subjected to brutal physical abuse,” stating that he was “repeatedly beaten by guards,” and that he “lost a tooth as a result of one such beating.”

In Guantánamo, despite maintaining his story (as he did throughout his detention), Zemiri came under suspicion because of Ahmed Ressam’s allegation. and was subjected to the “enhanced interrogation techniques” introduced by defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which, though nominally intended for use on Mohammed al-Qahtani (allegedly the 20th 9/11 hijacker), were actually applied to over a hundred prisoners.

As his attorneys explained, he was “tortured and/or subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including temperature manipulation, sleep deprivation, sound bombardment, and strobe lighting.” As they also explained, he was “splashed with fake menstrual blood, short-shackled, and forced to maintain a stress position for long periods of time.”

Despite this, Zemiri refused to accept that he was involved with either al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and also refused to accept Ahmed Ressam’s allegations, but it was not until Ressam wrote his letter, and another witness came forward, that, effectively, any case against him collapsed.

This second witness, Mokhtar Haouari, who was also convicted for playing a part in the “Millennium Plot,” wrote a letter from a prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he is serving a 24-year sentence, which first came to light during a military review board at Guantánamo in 2005, when it was submitted by Zemiri’s attorneys. In it, Haouari, stated, “As for these allegations leveled against Mr. Zemiri by Ressam, well I know they are false. Mr. Zemiri and I were close friends, unlike Ressam, who was not either of our friend. I never, in 5 yrs of knowing Mr. Zemiri, heard him speak of jihad, anti-American feelings or so-called terrorist activities … He’s never been a threat to America or any other country. Ressam is trying to use Mr. Zemiri like he used myself and others to decrease his prison term. The government doesn’t care if his accusations are true or false as long as it brings about a conviction.”

Adil al-Jazeeri: a child of the mujahideen

The second man released last week, Adil Hadi al-Jazairi Bin Hamlili (also identified in Guantánamo as Adil al-Jazeeri), was 27 years old when he was seized outside a restaurant in Peshawar on June 17, 2003 with five other men who were later released. Although almost everything about his story is confusing, it is clear is that he arrived in Pakistan with several family members in 1985, during the mujahideen resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when he was just nine years old, and spent many years in Afghanistan, before relocating to Pakistan sometime in the 1990s, where he was married and had four children.

No explanation has ever been publicly provided for his capture, but it may be related to the interrogation of his distant cousin, Mustafa Hamlili (also transferred to Guantánamo, but released in July 2008), who was seized in a village near Peshawar in May 2002. In Guantánamo, al-Jazeeri claimed that the Pakistanis had told him that the FBI had ordered his capture, but he may have been seized because he was a convenient target for the Pakistanis to sell to US forces.

Certainly, it is noticeable that the younger Hamlili was an irritant to the Pakistani authorities, if his own words in Guantánamo are to be believed. At a military review board hearing in 2005, in response to an allegation that he had stolen a car with three Pakistani friends, had been imprisoned for a year and a half, and had then been expelled to Afghanistan, he explained that he had actually been expelled “because I did not have the legal papers.”

Whatever the truth was regarding his capture, it was obvious that allegations against him were taken seriously at some level in the US government, because, after a month in Pakistani custody, he was rendered to Afghanistan on July 13, 2003, and held for some time in a secret CIA prison near Kabul (either the “Dark Prison” or the “Salt Pit”), before being moved to Bagram. He was also one of ten supposedly significant prisoners — including the British resident Binyam Mohamed — who were flown to Guantánamo on September 20, 2004, after being held as “high-value detainees,” and then, it appears, being downgraded to “medium-value detainees.”

According to a news report published in 2006, the Pakistani authorities believed that he had “served as a contact between al-Qaeda and the Taliban and also as an aide to the former Afghan foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil in Kabul,” and although there may be something in this latter claim, as al-Jazeeri admitted in a review board that he had found a job with the Taliban working in their media and translation department, he refused to admit that he had any connection to al-Qaeda. Despite being presented with a barrage of allegations in his tribunal and review boards — including claims that he was involved with Algerian and Tunisian terrorist groups, and that he moved al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan to Pakistan — he refuted them all, saying that most were false statements that had been obtained under duress in Guantánamo, Bagram or Kabul.

Noticeably, however, he also pointed out that a few allegations were made prisoners who had some involvement with al-Qaeda. “All al-Qaeda members they lie,” he said, “and most of them they really apologized to me in Camp 5. [One] asked for my forgiveness because he had had to do so. He had to say something like this because he was under pressure.’”

Interviewed in 2006, his wife also denied the allegations. Speaking from “a crowded mud-brick house in the village of Regi,” near Peshawar, she insisted that her husband was innocent. “My husband had no links with al-Qaeda and if he had any links with al-Qaeda then al-Qaeda people would take care of us because we are living very miserable lives,” she said.

Presumably, the President’s Guantánamo Review Task Force would not have released al-Jazeeri had they too not concluded that somewhere along the line his story had been overblown. Certainly, he gave the authorities no cause for alarm during his five years in Guantánamo, when he was apparently a thoroughly cooperative prisoner throughout his imprisonment. It seems, therefore, as with Ahcene Zemiri, that, despite the promise of terrorist related activities — and the use of torture in an attempt to prove it — neither man, in the end, proved anything beyond Guantánamo’s most enduring truth: that when you round people up in a random manner, or on the basis of untested intelligence, and then fly them halfway around the world to an experimental prison intended to be outside the law, you end up with nothing.

I suppose, however, that both these men should count themselves fortunate that they don’t fit into a category of prisoner embraced by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, and, it seems, by the President himself: those regarded as too dangerous to release, even though the supposed evidence against them would not stand up to any kind of independent scrutiny. These men — 47 in total, as the Task Force announced on Friday — will continue to be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

Compared to that, the Russian roulette of Algerian justice may not be so bad after all.

POSTSCRIPT: Just as this article was being published, the Justice Department announced that, on Sunday, three more prisoners had been transferred to Slovakia. The men’s identities were not revealed, but Reuters reported that, according to Slovak police, the three men “were being placed in a camp for asylum seekers in the eastern part of Slovakia, Humenne, which is run by the interior ministry.” RTT News added that, “Following an 18-month process of acclimatization to Slovakia, including language instruction and a search for employment, the prisoners will be released. However, they will be under surveillance for an unspecified period.”

In addition, a Czech website added that the Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak pointed out last week, “The three are not criminals, none of them has been either accused or convicted.” The paper also explained that the men “cannot return to their homeland as they could face persecution there in view of a ‘low level of democracy and human rights protection,’” adding that Lajcak had made a point of adding that “Slovak residents face no risk in this connection.”

And finally, for now, as I was adding this postscript, Carol Rosenberg reported in the Miami Herald that a fourth prisoner had also been released, although she explained that US officials had stated only that he was being resettled in an “undisclosed location.”

These releases bring the total number of prisoners still held in Guantánamo to 192.

POSTSCRIPT 2: On Tuesday, the nationality of this man — and his new home — were announced by the Swiss government. An Uzbek (one of the last two Uzbeks in Guantánamo, who were cleared for release by military review boards under the Bush administration, and also by President Obama’s Task Force), he was resettled in the canton of Geneva. As a Swiss website, Swissinfo, explained, “The government stressed that he is a free man who has never been charged with any offence; he has committed to learning one of the national languages and intends to look for work to support himself. The man’s identity and location will be kept secret so as to protect his integration into the country.”

Swissinfo added, “The cabinet agreed in December to grant him asylum on humanitarian grounds,” and also explained, that “an Algerian, whose asylum application was rejected by the Swiss Migration Office, won an appeal to Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court on December 18, and will have his case re-examined,” and that “Switzerland is also studying the case of two brothers from the Chinese province of Xinjiang.”

POSTSCRIPT 3 (June 22, 2010): According to a Swiss blog, the Uzbek released in Switzerland is Ali Sher Hamidullah (ISN 455). This information accords with what I was told when the Swiss government was considering accepting an Uzbek back in September last year.

POSTSCRIPT 4 (July 10, 2010): For information on the three men released in Slovakia (Adel Fattough Ali El-Gazzar, an Egyptian, Poolad Tsiradzho, an Azerbaijani, and Rafiq al-Hami, a Tunisian), see: Three Neglected Ex-Guantánamo Prisoners in Slovakia Embark on a Hunger Strike, “It was better in Guantánamo,” Complains Egyptian Held in Slovak Detention Center, and Who Are the Three Ex-Guantánamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Slovakia?

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation. Cross-posted on The Public Record.

See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009, and the 42 prisoners released from February to December 2009, whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the Internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Files: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (here, here and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis; September 2007 –- 1 Mauritanian; September 2007 –- 1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans; November 2007 –- 14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians; July 2008 –- 1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; November 2008 –- 2 Algerians; November 2008 –- 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan) repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani), 4 Uighurs to Bermuda, 1 Iraqi, 3 Saudis (here and here); August 2009 — 1 Afghan (Mohamed Jawad), 2 Syrians to Portugal; September 2009 — 1 Yemeni, 2 Uzbeks to Ireland (here and here); October 2009 — 1 Kuwaiti, 1 prisoner of undisclosed nationality to Belgium; October 2009 — 6 Uighurs to Palau; November 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian to France, 1 unidentified Palestinian to Hungary, 2 Tunisians to Italian custody, December 2009 — 1 Kuwaiti (Fouad al-Rabiah), December 2009 — 2 Somalis, 4 Afghans, 6 Yemenis.

Control Orders Take Another Blow: Libyan Cartoonist Freed (Detainee DD)

A political cartoon by Ziyad Ali Hashem (Detainee DD)The news that Ziyad Ali Hashem, a control order detainee in the UK (previously identified only as DD) has had his control order lifted elicits two particular responses from those who have been aware of his case since he was first deprived of his liberty in November 2005: firstly, relief that his ordeal is at an end; and secondly, indignation that it took so long.

The use of control orders — a form of house arrest for men described as “terror suspects” but held without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence — is a terrible aberration in a country that claims to respect the rule of law. Since last June, when the Law Lords accepted a European ruling that the use of secret evidence infringed the men’s right to a fair trial, the entire system appears to be crumbling, although, as I explained in an article for the Guardian last week, following a judge’s decision to quash control orders against two men, including a joint British/Libyan national, the government is not accepting defeat gracefully.

Shot through with opportunities for the government to rely on poor or downright risible intelligence, without being adequately challenged, the entire system is unjustifiable, as was revealed over the Christmas period, when another Libyan, Faraj Hassan, also had his control order dismissed (see an interview here, conducted after he had been imprisoned for five years, but before a control order was imposed). In a court transcript, it was revealed that the British intelligence services had relied on transcripts of taped conversations that had been translated from Arabic into Italian, and then into English, and that along the way elementary errors had been made that would be laughable were their consequences not so severe. One striking example concerned reports of a discussion about “the man from the Gulf,” which in fact referred to “the man with the Golf” — a description of Hassan’s car, a VW Golf, and not some shady, coded conversation about a terrorist.

Moreover, although the whole system is corrupt, it is particularly inexplicable with reference to the Libyan detainees, whose only reason for being in the UK is through their opposition to Colonel Gaddafi, the former pariah who is now a friend to the West, because of his professed cooperation in the “War on Terror,” and the oil that we are now free to exploit.

As I explained in an article for the Guardian last year, the Libyans’ “only ‘crime’ was to seek asylum at the wrong time.” At the time, I referred to DD, stating that he was unfortunate enough to arrive in Britain in 2004, “around the same time that Tony Blair was in Tripoli, meeting Gaddafi for the first time and talking of the ‘new relationship’ that had become possible since the regime renounced its WMD programme.”

To mark Ziyad’s freedom from the control order that has blighted his life — and that of his family — for the last four years, I reproduce below an enlightening (and slightly edited) interview with him, conducted by former Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg in 2008, and also reproduce some of the many sharp and insightful political cartoons that he has drawn over the last five years to sharpen his resolve and to tell the world about the hypocrisy of treating opponents of Gaddafi as “terrorists.”

Moazzam Begg Interviews Detainee DD, 8 April 2008

Detainee DD was arrested in Britain in October 2005. Since that time he has been detained without trial or charge, fighting deportation to Libya, where he faces the threat of further imprisonment, torture or death. Initially held in Britain’s Secret Guantánamo, HMP Long Lartin, he was later released under a control order. A talented artist, whilst in prison DD took to expressing his despair, anger and frustration at the government’s current approach to human rights in his satirical cartoons. At the time of this interview, he was 32 years old.

MB: Can you tell us why you left Libya?

DD: I left Libya because I opposed the regime of Gaddafi. I came here as a political asylum seeker. My opposition to the Gaddafi regime was purely political; it did not involve the use of any sort of violence or force. This point is acknowledged by the British authorities too. The Libyan government has sentenced me to execution by hanging. When I sought asylum, I did not have any documentation to prove that such a sentence has been passed on me. However, now when the British authorities decided to deport me, they wrote to the Libyan Government, asking them to clarify their intentions regarding me. The Libyan Foreign Ministry wrote back stating that, should this person be handed over to the Libyan government, he shall be sentenced to death. I have this document with me now.

A political cartoon by Ziyad Ali Hasem (Detainee DD)

MB: What did you expect and hope from the British authorities at that time?

DD: When I sought asylum here, I gave them access to all my personal information; my name, address, even my thoughts, what I do, everything. I remember on my arrival at Heathrow airport, on the same day, I didn’t leave the airport; the MI5 sat with me and asked me some questions. I too asked whether my proposed political activities in opposition to Libya were against any British laws. They replied that the country is open to you for this purpose. They now view me as a threat to the country. If I intended to engage myself in any such activities, I would not have given them files of information about myself. I would have stayed undercover and done what I intended to do. My point is that all my files are very, very clear that my activities are purely political and focused only against the Libyan regime.

MB: But since then diplomatic relations between the two countries have become stronger and that changes everything. When did you seek asylum, upon first arrival?

DD: Yes, upon my first arrival.

MB: Was your application successful?

DD: I was refused at the first instance but was successful when this decision was challenged in the court. The court immediately gave judgment in my favour to stay in the UK. However, this judgment has now been completely taken away from me, my children and my wife too. It is surprising, as my wife has had a residence permit for Spain for about fifteen years She studied and grew up there. So my nationality is Libyan, hers is Spanish, but my children have no nationality! When I ask them, “Are my children British?” they say, No.” “Are they Libyan?” They say, “No.” When I ask for a decision, they say we have not yet decided.

MB: How old are the children?

DD: One is three and the other is four. They have no passports, they have no ID cards. They cannot travel outside the UK, visiting relatives etc. is not possible. Although theoretically, they have a choice whether to stay or leave, they are compelled to stay here, because once they leave the UK, they cannot return back. And incidentally, I hold Libyan nationality, whereas Libyan law states that marriage between a Libyan national and a non-Libyan national must be first sanctioned by the Libyan government. Failure to do so results in termination of the Libyan spouse’s nationality. So from a practical perspective, I don’t have a nationality; neither Libyan nor any other.

MB: Strange indeed! What is your educational background?

DD: I studied till college then took courses in many fields of computing and IT. I have been working in this field for approximately 14, 15 years now.

MB: When were you arrested?

DD: They arrested me on 2 October 2005. They broke into the house while we were asleep at 5 am. The whole area was alarmed. I was hurt and shaken and taken away. I did not see my wife or children. They then took my wife and children to London. For three days, they plundered our home in Cardiff. Many of my belongings were stolen during this period. Then when my wife came back with the children after three days, they didn’t allow her to enter the house. They said that news of the raid had spread in the neighbourhood and that they were afraid that racist groups may target the family, so it was unsafe for them to enter the house. So instead they left her in the street with the children. They did not offer her any support at all. My wife had to appoint a solicitor. She was then put in a hostel. She spent approximately two and a half months in that hostel, which was mixed.

MB: When they took you, were you mistreated?

DD: Compared to my other friends I was treated very well. Others have been taken in such a violent manner, it cannot be described. They have been trampled upon, beaten, some of them have had broken bones. Brother Muhammad had a rib broken, he still complains of pain in his chest. I, however, was very keen to co-operate. Once they chained me, I quickly left with them. Despite this, I was handled violently and forcefully. Upon arrival at the prison, it is the prison doctor’s duty to check you for injuries etc and report everything. It is however strange that on our arrival at the prison, the doctor simply asked whether we suffered from diabetes or high blood pressure. He did not even look at our bodies. This was to prevent incrimination of the police.

MB: When were you first informed of the reason for your arrest? Did they in the beginning tell you why you were arrested?

DD: No they didn’t. They didn’t even provide a translator and I hardly understood them. They asked if there were explosives in my house. I said no. Then, jokingly, I said you can even check the children’s nappies. This made the interrogator laugh too.

MB: So when were you provided with an interpreter?

DD: I didn’t see an interpreter until I was inside the prison. They tore my house apart. I had no idea why this was happening, nor did I understand anything.

MB: Do you know under which laws you were arrested?

DD: I didn’t know anything until I was visited by the interpreter in the prison.

MB: Can you explain what effect these laws have had on your life?

DD: Yes, I have reached many conclusions. Firstly, the claim that this is a democratic or free country is hollow and void of substance. Here, democracy is applicable only to a certain section of the population. This is a police state; everything here takes place covertly. The MI5 and MI6 control everything. The judge, if I can be excused to say, is a brainless person. They put in front of him 3,000 papers and he simply passes judgment without any deliberation whatsoever over the case and even without hearing us. If I can give an example, they seized from me an A to Z map booklet which I used for tourism work. They said that you were involved in the plot to bomb the Atlantic airliners. I was in fact arrested 13 months before the Atlantic airliners’ case took place.

The A to Z maps were used as classified evidence against me. When the judge passed judgment, it stated that A to Z maps were found in his possession, which may have been used for terrorist activities. I had A to Z maps for London, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Cardiff …

MB: Then you are a very big terrorist!

DD: Supposedly, yes! And the London A to Z maps have markings on all the tourist centres and agencies because I used to work in the tourism industry and I used these for my work. The third point which I would like to point out, is when Tony Blair said that Libya has improved and described Libya as a democratic country, we prisoners interpreted that to mean that democratic Britain had actually stooped to the same level as Libya. Both dictators look at each other and they feel that both are at the same level so that now there is no difference between the so-called democracy in the UK and the Libyan dictatorship.

A political cartoon by Ziyad Ali Hashem (Detainee DD)

At the moment, in Libya, people are imprisoned, without charge. In Britain, we too have imprisonment without charge. In Libya, they use classified evidence. We cannot have access to this nor do we have any knowledge of it. In the UK, they too use classified evidence. In Libya, you may have evidence but you are not allowed a lawyer to defend you. It is very similar here too.

We are provided with a lawyer known as the special advocate. This lawyer has never met me, never seen me, nor does he know anything about me. It would be naïve to expect this lawyer to defend me, if he does not know what I have or haven’t done. For example when he (the lawyer) is told DD killed a fox in the forest, how does he defend me? He can deny that I killed the fox, while I in fact did not, in which case he is correct; or he can deny that I killed the fox while in fact I may have killed it, in which case he would be wrong. How can he decide without seeing the evidence and talking to me? Apart from these there are many other points that I have found bizarre about this government.

MB: And the new control order legislation — this was non-existent before and now you find yourself under it?

DD: Yes, this control order is applied only on the Muslims here and against nationals of countries that have good relations with Britain. Libya from the very beginning has been a bitter enemy of the UK. They have supported the IRA, they killed the British policewoman [Yvonne Fletcher], they blew up the aeroplane over Lockerbie, the Libyan regime has taken part in and supported many of the terrorist groups. They have killed many of their opponents inside the UK — they killed Mustapha Ramadhan from BBC Radio. They also killed Abu Zayd from the Salvation Front opposition in London. This all happened in the UK.

Ultimately, the one who has power and petrol rules. The moment Gaddafi stops the supply of petrol, the laws of the UK change. For example, when the Muslims called for an option to be governed by Islamic Law in some limited spheres of their civil and personal lives, there was an unending uproar. However, anti- terror laws change weekly. This is ironic when they say we have laws that have been around for three centuries and now myself, my wife and children are under a control order. We have to wear tags on our wrists, very similar to the watch you are wearing. Every time I want to leave, I must call the police from this tag and inform them that I need to go out.

Over the last three years my children have memorised what I say. Once my young daughter was playing with the tag and called the police and repeated to them what I usually tell them. Despite the fact that only information given by myself can be registered, they believed her and this was also recorded against me. My daughters have become so paranoid now that if anyone knocks on the door forcefully, they cry out, “Police, police!” When they see a police car, they are frightened.

MB: So despite this length of time you do not yet know what accusations have been levelled against you? I mean, is there a specific allegation?

DD: The accusation is an open one. Using legislation from 1981, which applied to the IRA, is all lumped into it, supposed links with ETA, Venezuela, Nigeria — the lot. The only thing that matters is that the accusations should be pleasing to Gaddafi.

MB: If you are deported to Libya, what do you think will happen?

DD: Like I told you I have been sentenced to death and this has been made official by the Libyan Foreign Ministry. The Libyan official who has issued this statement is responsible for relations between Europe and Libya. His name is Abdul Atif Al-Obeidi. He is part of the Libyan regime. His statement read that “DD will be sentenced to death upon being handed over to Libya under Rule 71,” or something like that.

MB: When you were first arrested, which prison were you held in?

DD: In Long Lartin and, initially, without representation or anything — being moved from bed to bed.

MB: Can you please explain what the regime is like in Long Lartin?

DD: All of us who had not yet been charged were placed together in a special unit.

MB: In this country, anyone who has not been charged is innocent until proven guilty.

DD: I am very, very afraid of my acquaintance with some of the inmates. I recall the case of one of the Algerian brothers who has now been sent back to Algeria. The evidence used against him was that he was associated with another person. The Algerian brother swears that he only met this alleged associate in prison. And I make no secret of it — I am also expecting the same because I have got to know the Jordanian brothers, the Algerian brothers, Abu Qatada etc. in prison. The first time I ever met them in my life was inside the walls of the prison.

MB: This is very familiar to Guantánamo. We were accused of knowing so and so although we had only just met them in prison.

DD: Yes, but Guantánamo is well-known while the prisons here are not. In fact, I believe that it is worse here than it is in Guantánamo because it is a well-known fact that prisoners are held in Guantánamo without charge, while here people think that we are only held if charged and due legal process is adhered to.

At the moment, in the prison, we are banned from relaying anything to the outside. It is funny that on the inside of our handsets there is a notice which states that all calls are monitored except calls to legal representatives. It is so ironic that we then hear of the MP who was bugged by the MI5. I found that on more than one occasion the Home Office already knew about things I had discussed with my legal representatives in confidence.

MB: Can you describe the cell you were living in?

DD: The cell spanned about 1 metre by 1.5 metres. It had a WC facility. This is where I lived, washed and prayed. They would at times come in with dogs to check for drugs. They know we don’t take drugs, but they only want to insult us. We are not allowed to send anything. They sometimes allow us to keep a copy of the Qur’an. At times, they lock these cells up for up to three days without letting us out. When we ask them why, they say that [they] found weapons with one on the inmates or that one of the inmates pointed a gun at the guards. Once I sarcastically told them that I was the one with the gun, I plead guilty, and that they should now open the door. I did this to prove a point, that not everything they say is true.

MB: Can you talk us through your daily prison routine?

DD: We are Muslims, in sha’Allah, we believe in Allah and we hope that all this shall be placed in our scale of good deeds. We spend our time in prayer. We encourage and give moral support to each other until we overcome this crisis. And every crisis is eventually solved by supplication of the Muslims and prayer. Many people, even non-Muslims, are sympathetic towards us. We find this very encouraging and uplifting for our morale. This helps us be more patient inside the cells.

MB: Were you allowed visits and calls?

DD: Visits are not allowed except for my wife, children and legal representative. The British press wanted to visit me so I lodged an application for a visit but there was no response. My brother travelled secretly from Libya to visit me but he was not allowed either. They said there is no evidence that we were siblings, despite the fact that we both shared the same family names.

MB: What did they require to establish that he was your brother?

DD: They wanted him to hand over his passport, two photographs and his full address in Libya and a signed statement that he is my brother. It was obvious that these were asked for by the Home Office. They said they would grant permission after one month. My brother only had three days and he wanted to keep the visit a secret from the Libyan authorities. Eventually, he returned to Libya and we were unable to meet.

MB: Have you received letters from outside?

DD: Yes I have received letters and, like I said, these are very encouraging for us. We have received letters from both native English people and others too. Many people have complained to higher authorities but there is nothing they can really do for us due to the current policy.

MB: What about the other inmates? How was your relationship with them?

DD: To tell you the truth, more than 80 percent of them were very sympathetic and sincere towards us.

MB: Are these non-Muslims?

DD: Yes, non-Muslims. For example, in sports etc., they like to choose us to be part of their teams. Our friendship with them is so good that at times the security guard has intervened to separate us. And that reminds me of a security guard. He did not allow me to send out cartoons that I had drawn to my solicitor. I asked him, in the presence of witnesses (an officer and other inmates), as to why he did this when it was perfectly legal. He replied saying that the cartoons I had drawn were not legal because they were insulting to Tony Blair. So I asked why is the Times then allowed to publish such cartoons daily? He did not have an answer. I then through an interpreter told the guard that I wanted to challenge the reason he had given in court.

The day I left the prison (17 May 2007) at about 1pm, I had written on my white board some messages such as “Welcome To Guantánamo UK” etc. Every prisoner has his own personal board in his room on which he may write anything. Two officers came into my room and ordered me to take down the board. I asked if the board together with its contents was legal. They replied that it was legal, but they still wanted me to remove it. I asked why other detainees were not ordered to do the same. They said that they (the other non-Muslim) detainees had the right to write what they wanted but not us (Muslims). I told them that this was racist and he said, “Yes, that’s correct, we are racist.” I asked if I could raise a case against him. He said, yes, I should go ahead, but if the board isn’t taken down by noon we’ll make a case against you.

MB: What do you think led to your release from prison?

DD: Not all judges are the same. Some of them do actually use their intellect when they decide cases. When the Home Office put forward our cases, i.e. the Libyans, it was all a matter of trade with Gaddafi — his fuel in exchange for individuals he wanted. There was no substance to these cases at all.

The A to Z maps they brought forward as evidence was literally complete nonsense. We actually won the case on a conditional basis that we would be returned (to Libya) should our safety in Libya be secured. There are numerous international bodies that assess and report on the political situation in Libya daily. There are more than 900 people that have been detained in Libya. Nobody knows their whereabouts. Some have been missing for over 20 years now. I know one that is missing since 1984.

Gaddafi killed 1200 people in 1996. He supported a massacre in 2007 where three people were killed and tens of people wounded. This happened on 1 January 2007. Some of the prisoners from the prison in Libya where the massacre took place called Al-Jazeera from the prison and reported the massacre. As a result of this, since 1 January 2007 to date, access to all prisons in Libya has been shut down. Family visits, visits from lawyers, all correspondence and phone calls have been suspended. This is collective punishment. So with all this going on, how can a judge conclude that Libya is a safe country for us to be returned to?

Secondly, Gaddafi has promised to reform Libya and to become a democracy, like the UK. Although he has promised today, he could easily revoke it tomorrow. If we are returned, it is we who will have to suffer the consequences. They should wait a few years and see that a democracy is actually implemented before rushing us back to Libya. We face serious problems in our countries. If we are not liked by the UK for any reason, we can be asked to leave to another country, but we should not be handed over to Gaddafi on flimsy promises that he will not torture us. We do not want to spend the rest of our lives in prison.

A political cartoon by Ziyad Ali Hashem (Detainee DD)

The British government wants to return us to Libya on the reassurance that we will stand ordinary trial. Why should we stand trial when we have not committed any crime? It is Gaddafi who has committed the crimes in Libya. The whole of Libya has suffered at his hands. I will give an example of my own self. My father was imprisoned twice in Libya. He was tortured so severely that his torturers broke his leg. My brother till today is in mental hospital. He lost his senses after being electrocuted by high voltage during his torture. So how can they return me to Libya based on guarantees by Gaddafi that he won’t torture me? And why do they want to send me back anyway? Are my activities not legal? If not, then I am ready to account for everything.

MB: Can you briefly explain how life has been following your release from prison under the control order?

DD: I cannot do anything. I am not allowed to work or study any course that involves the use of computers — virtually every educational institute now uses these. I, my wife or children are not allowed to use computers, mobile phones, internet facilities or telephones except the special land line phone installed in my home. I cannot call 999 emergency numbers from outside my home. I cannot even go to the local police station without giving 24 hours notice to the Immigration authorities and acquiring prior approval from them.

They have placed me far away from community. There is no hospital that my wife and children can visit. There is no bank nearby, although I am not allowed to use banking facilities. The area where I have been placed is full of graveyards — there are more than 20 graveyards nearby. The house where I have been placed has been derelict for many, many years. Most of the basic facilities are non- existent. There is no cooker, many of the lights don’t work, the doors are insecure and some have even fallen. I have asked for maintenance and repair work to be carried out many times but they hardly reply and if I’m lucky, they turn up after months. I have had to do most of the repairs myself, in order to make the place habitable. They do not give us cash, only vouchers which are usable in Asda only. I cannot shop anywhere else besides Asda. So for example, if I want to buy halal meat or certain things for the children, I cannot use these vouchers.

MB: Are you not allowed to carry cash?

DD: I am allowed to carry cash but they give me a very small amount every month. This is so small that it is not enough to cover simple expenses such as postage, transport etc. All I have are these Asda vouchers but Asda does not sell everything. They sell food products, a small line of clothing and few house wares. I believe that these vouchers are only used to make me feel subdued. I wait every month for them to deliver these vouchers to me. They come arrogantly and give them to me.

MB: And you have no right to work?

DD: I am not allowed to work. I have pleaded many times to be allowed to work so that I can spend on my children and improve our living conditions, but they have always refused. Even my wife cannot work. My wife and children have no identity documents, even though both my children were born in the UK. My children only have their birth certificates They have no passports or residence permits. They are alien nationals. I too have no driving licence or national insurance number. When I asked for the national insurance number, I was told that I do not have rights to acquire this number. My means have been so much restricted that it is as if I am still in prison. All I can really do is go to the library but even that I am afraid to do because they might accuse me of using a computer or something. I spend most of my time in the mosque, which is about five km away. It takes me an hour and five minutes to walk there and about 25 minutes by bus.

MB: Are there any limitations as to when you can leave your house?

DD: Yes, I can only leave my house between 7 am and 7 pm. Once I was on the bus and it broke down. I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it home in time and explained my situation to the bus driver. He was alarmed and all the same very sympathetic too. He gave me his contact details and also signed a short statement stating that the bus had broken down and any delay in me reaching home was due to a bus fault. He said he would be willing to testify too should he be required to do so.

When I go to the mosque or anyone comes to visit me I am afraid to take off my socks because that would expose the electronic tag around my ankle and fellow worshipers and visitors would think that I am a criminal.

MB: I recall you saying that the Immigration Authorities came to your house and said that your house was an extension of the prison. Can you elaborate on this?

DD: Yes, I was visited by some of my friends from London on my release from prison. Officers in plain clothes came to my house and, in a violent and forceful manner, started to ask my visitors to produce identification documents. My visitors were alarmed and frightened at this because the British authorities could easily incriminate them for association with me. One of my visitors asked the officer in plain clothes if he had a court warrant or if he could show some ID. The officer had none of these with him. My friend then asked what would happen should he refuse to produce his identification documents. The officer replied that this house is considered an extension of the Home Office prison. And I was held here because I was released on bail pending case decision. The officer said that it was their job to keep a record of all those who enter and exit this building. He also said that if you refuse to produce your ID you will be arrested and taken to the police station to produce your documents.

Many of the homes the Immigration Services visit and search are totally wrecked by them. The whole house is turned upside down. They deliberately break things and when we complain about this, they refuse to accept liability. Sometimes they take items away for further inspection, saying that they will be returned in a week’s time but they don’t. They just come in and take anything. Once the search officer picked up my earphones and started to examine them. I said, these are simple earphones, what are you looking for? Even the accompanying police escort said that this was ridiculous.

MB: What is the effect of all this on your children and family?

DD: My wife has become chronically depressed. She has been on medication for a while but has had to leave it because of its adverse side effects. Myself, I cannot sleep at night and I have to take medication to help me sleep. I suffer from insomnia and nightmares. I have been to see the doctor about this and he has now doubled my dose from 70mg to 140mg. My wife has the same problem too and it is getting worse as this tragedy prolongs. My eldest daughter is old enough to understand most of what is happening. When there is a loud knock on the door, she gets very frightened and runs shouting, “Police, police.” She is so scared that at times she even soils her clothes. They come knocking at 6.30am in the morning. At times, there is up to 20 of them and always a minimum of four.

MB: They come without any notice or warning?

DD: Yes, without any warning or notice. They just start knocking at the door and you have to open. It is strange that all the police wear bulletproof vests while the interpreter is unprotected in plain clothes. This is because he is Arab of Iraqi origin. I told them that if my house is so dangerous then why is the interpreter not protected? He too should be provided with the same vest. The officer replied by saying, “Are you racist?” I said, “No, you are racist. Just as you are concerned for your own security, why don’t you have the same concern for the security of the Iraqi interpreter?” He laughed and said that you are both Arabs, you both know each other etc, and just brushed the matter aside. My children are now scared of leaving the home. Whenever we want to go out they say, “We don’t want to go.” This fear has confined them to the house. My daughter doesn’t even like to go to the local nursery.

MB: How do you keep your morale high?

DD: This is a good question. I will tell you what raises my morale, but please try and understand my answer properly. When I want to boost my morale I think of Guantánamo Bay, and the prisoners there. Comparing my situation to theirs gives me a great sense of gratitude and appreciation.

A political cartoon by Ziyad Ali Hashem (Detainee DD)

MB: What has been your experience with SIAC (the Special Immigration Appeals Commission)? What do you make of the hearings that took place in the SIAC?

DD: This Commission is like an illegitimate child, it has no lineage in the field of justice. It only listens to the Home Office’s side of the case and we are denied proper representation. They frequently use classified evidence. Before the classified evidence is brought forward, my lawyer and I are escorted out of the courtroom, the door is locked in front of us so that we don’t hear anything, then the evidence is produced before the Commission.

MB: Not even your own lawyer knows what this evidence is?

DD: No, not even my own lawyer knows about the classified evidence. Neither am I allowed to meet or say hello to my lawyer. This is probably worse than Libya. Although they don’t have lawyers, the individual can at least represent himself. Here we are represented but we don’t know who the lawyer is or how we are going to be represented. The Commission is like a gang of thugs, they close the door and listen to evidence against us, then they have discussions based on that evidence, then they make decisions without giving us a fair chance to defend ourselves.

Nobody, neither the lawyers nor the judges, know the boundaries of the law. The law is constantly altered and changed as the case progresses. I don’t know when this control order will cease because the case cannot be determined from the outset. At every stage of the process the law is freshly tailored to suit the Home Office. You asked what is the effect of this court?

MB: Yes, I did.

DD: The effect of this court is felt in our countries. I have many relatives and family in Libya — about 1,500 people. They all know what has happened to me and how the UK has treated me. Their opinion of the UK has totally changed. They view the UK as a colonialist power that harbours hatred against us. Tony Blair and his government are only concerned about the petrol wealth in our countries, they have no concern for democracy as they claim, or for the people that suffer under the Libyan dictatorship.

A political cartoon by Ziyad Ali Hashem (Detainee DD)

MB: What did you receive from the Muslims of Britain, in terms of moral and other forms of support?

DD: There was much sympathy from most but not all of the Muslims, their hearts and supplications were with us. I fully appreciate that some of the Muslims are unable to offer the same support as others. I understand and accept that this is either due to their fear of being accused of being co-associates of us detainees or because they are simply unaware of our cases. They are quite rightly excused for not being able to extend their support because the UK has set a very frightening example in incriminating people by association. Despite the lack of support we shall nevertheless carry on our work of exposing the abuses taking place in our country. Our children and womenfolk are killed, our youth are imprisoned, so we have no choice but to speak out against this.

MB: Have you received any moral or other support from the non-Muslim members of the British community?

DD: Generally when we speak to them they are very sensitive and sympathetic towards us. They disapprove of what the British government is doing to us. They will help us with whatever means they possess. However, the media is in the hands of the government and it is they who are defaming us, and our campaign. And sadly, we do not have the means to stand up to the mighty media campaign they are waging against us. They accuse us of things we haven’t done. We in fact do not pose any type of threat to this country and the UK knows this. We do not agree with the bombings that took place in the UK or in other parts of Europe. We could never support the killing of innocent civilians. What has happened was totally wrong. However, it is part of the government’s political agenda that these bombings be used to focus their attention on us. Consequently, it is due to these sad events that we find ourselves in prisons.

MB: Is there anything you would like to say to those reading this, or is there anything that you would like them to do for you?

DD: The Prophet (may peace be upon him) said, “Do not consider insignificant even the smallest of good deeds.” So every person, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, can support us by means of a good word, be it a letter or voice in the form of protest against the government condemning its unjust policies, or advice, or publicising our plea. Every person is capable of helping us and seeing the truth if he wants to. Anyone willing to sincerely help us, Allah will guide them. We are in need of people to speak out on our behalf, people to stand in solidarity with us and to support us.

You are now called for by Allah, and by Humanity, they are in desperate need of your help. If you stand back and do nothing then your silence in such difficult times will be recorded in history. So once again I appeal to all you listeners to break the silence, be it with an influential letter, article, protest, or through condemning and denouncing the government’s policies. Do anything you can to help those who are held indefinitely without charge. Indefinite detention without charge is found only in dictator countries like Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt etc. If this country is to maintain democracy we must put a stop to indefinite detention without charge. The government should not be allowed to use 7/7 [the London bombings on 7 July 2005] as a pretext to justify indefinite detention or to buy our silence. Only because the real culprits of 7/7 have not been found, the government is using us as scapegoats so that the people can extinguish their anger on us.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

For other articles dealing with Belmarsh, control orders, deportation bail, deportations and extraditions, see Deals with dictators undermined by British request for return of five Guantánamo detainees (August 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: the troubling tale of Tunisian Belmarsh detainee Hedi Boudhiba, extradited, cleared and abandoned in Spain (August 2007), Guantánamo as house arrest: Britain’s law lords capitulate on control orders (November 2007), The Guantánamo Britons and Spain’s dubious extradition request (December 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: control orders renewed, as one suspect is freed (February 2008), Spanish drop “inhuman” extradition request for Guantánamo Britons (March 2008), UK government deports 60 Iraqi Kurds; no one notices (March 2008), Repatriation as Russian Roulette: Will the Two Algerians Freed from Guantánamo Be Treated Fairly? (July 2008), Abu Qatada: Law Lords and Government Endorse Torture (February 2009), Ex-Guantánamo prisoner refused entry into UK, held in deportation centre (February 2009), Home Secretary ignores Court decision, kidnaps bailed men and imprisons them in Belmarsh (February 2009), Britain’s insane secret terror evidence (March 2009), Torture taints all our lives (published in the Guardian’s Comment is free), Britain’s Guantánamo: Calling For An End To Secret Evidence, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (1) Detainee Y, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (2) Detainee BB, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (3) Detainee U, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (4) Hussain Al-Samamara, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (5) Detainee Z, Britain’s Guantánamo: Fact or Fiction? and URGENT APPEAL on British terror laws: Get your MP to support Diane Abbott’s Early Day Motion on the use of secret evidence (all April 2009), and Taking liberties with our justice system and Death in Libya, betrayal in the West (both for the Guardian), Law Lords Condemn UK’s Use of Secret Evidence And Control Orders (June 2009), Miliband Shows Leadership, Reveals Nothing About Torture To Parliamentary Committee (June 2009), Britain’s Torture Troubles: What Tony Blair Knew (June 2009), Seven years of madness: the harrowing tale of Mahmoud Abu Rideh and Britain’s anti-terror laws, Would you be able to cope?: Letters by the children of control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh, Control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh to be allowed to leave the UK (all June 2009), Testing control orders and Dismantle the secret state (for the Guardian), UK government issues travel document to control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh after horrific suicide attempt (July 2009), Secret evidence in the case of the North West 10 “terror suspects” (August 2009), Letting go of control orders (for the Guardian, September 2009), Another Blow To Britain’s Crumbling Control Order Regime (September 2009), UK Judge Approves Use of Secret Evidence in Guantánamo Case (November 2009), Calling Time On The Use Of Secret Evidence In The UK (December 2009), Compensation for control orders is a distraction (for the Guardian, January 2010).

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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