Welcome to my website. I’m a freelance investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer, musician (I’m the singer and chief songwriter in a band, The Four Fathers, in which I also play guitar), and a human rights and social justice campaigner, specializing in Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Much of my work is reader-funded, so if you like what I do please consider clicking on the “Donate” button above and providing me with some financial support.
In 2013, in recognition of my work on Guantánamo, I was short-listed for the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.
My website receives around 500,000 page views every month, and was archived by the British Library in January 2011, and I’m pleased to report that, in the eight years I have spent working full-time on Guantánamo and related issues, I have worked as a consultant for the United Nations (as the lead writer on a report on secret detention in 2010), and I have also worked as a media partner with WikiLeaks, for the release of classified military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, in April 2011, which I subsequently began analyzing in depth for an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series, “The Complete Guantánamo Files.”
In addition, I have worked for two NGOs (Reprieve and Cageprisoners), and I have also been involved with a third NGO, Amnesty International, primarily in promoting, to student audiences, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” the film I co-directed with Polly Nash. I have also worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York on a number of reports.
In January 2012, to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, I established the campaigning website, “Close Guantánamo,” with the US lawyer Tom Wilner and with support from a number of prominent lawyers, retired military officials and human rights organizations, and in November I established another campaign, We Stand With Shaker, with the campaigner Joanne MacInnes, to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo. See our Facebook and Twitter pages, and see below for the promotional video by film student Billy Dudley (featuring my band The Four Fathers and my “Song for Shaker Aamer”):
I also write most regularly for this site, Andy Worthington (almost on a daily basis), and I write around three columns a month for “Close Guantánamo.” In September 2013, I began writing for Al-Jazeera English, and I wrote my first article for Al-Jazeera America in November 2014, and in June 2014 I wrote an article for PolicyMic (which soon after changed its name to Mic).
I have also written for newspapers and other websites including the New York Times, for whom I wrote a front-page story in 2008 with Carlotta Gall, about the lies told by the Bush administration regarding an Afghan prisoner, Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, who died in Guantánamo in December 2007.
I have also written for the Guardian and Truthout, and from 2008 to 2013 I wrote a weekly column for the Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2011, I was commissioned to write an article, “Guantánamo, Torture and President Obama’s Failures,” for CounterPunch’s anthology, Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, and in 2009 Dahlia Lithwick included my article, “A History of Music Torture in the ‘War on Terror,’” in her anthology for Kaplan, The Best American Legal Writing 2009.
In the past, I have written extensively for Cageprisoners, and for Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, the Huffington Post, AlterNet and ZNet, and I have occasionally written for the Daily Star, Lebanon. In addition, my work is regularly cross-posted across the internet.
As well as covering Guantánamo and the “war on terror,” I also try, when I have the time, to cover the opportunistic “age of austerity” imposed in the UK by the Tory-led coalition government, addressing the shameful targeting of the most vulnerable members of society (especially the disabled and the unemployed) and campaigning to save the NHS (particularly as part of the successful campaign to save Lewisham Hospital in 2012-13). In May 2012, I also embarked on a major project of social history — photographing the whole of London by bike, providing a detailed visual account (with accompanying text and essays) of the fabric of London at this particular time. This project will soon be launched on its own website, “The State of London.”
On this site you can find information about my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, and distributed in the US by Macmillan), including reviews by released Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, lawyers Clive Stafford Smith, Marc Falkoff and Candace Gorman, authors Michelle Shephard, Stephen Grey and Peter Bergen, film-maker Ken Loach, and film producer Marty Fisher. The book is available from Amazon (US and UK), and a wide range of other outlets, and you can also buy it directly from me.
You can also find information about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (directed by myself and Polly Nash), which was launched in October 2009, and was featured on Democracy Now!, ABC News and Truthout. “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a Spectacle Production, and copies of the DVD are available here (and here if you’re in the US). For further information, interviews, or to inquire about broadcasting, distributing or showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” please contact Andy Worthington or Polly Nash.
Having spent several years looking at the undercurrents of post-war British social history — in particular the clash between the state and some of its most outspoken critics (protest movements, travellers and alternative communities) — I turned my attention to the “war on terror” in 2006. Like many decent-minded citizens of the world, I had been deeply concerned, from the moment Guantánamo opened in January 2002, that the US administration’s response to 9/11 was both cruel and misguided, but although I conducted some research in the years that followed, it was not until March 2006, when I read Enemy Combatant by the released British prisoner Moazzam Begg, that I asked myself the fateful question, “Who’s in Guantánamo?” The quest to answer this question consumed over a year of my life, involved me analyzing 8,000 pages of documents relating to the prisoners which were released by the Pentagon in 2006 after losing a lawsuit, and led to the creation of The Guantánamo Files.
To coincide with the publication of The Guantánamo Files, I started providing additional information about the prisoners that I was unable to include in the book. See the links in the left-hand column for these 12 online chapters, which I completed in February 2009. Also in the left-hand column is my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in four parts, which I first made available in March 2009, after completing the online chapters, and most recently updated and expanded to six parts in March 2014, as well as my definitive list of the Guantánamo habeas results, my full list of everyone charged in the military commissions, and — more for historical interest now — the annotated Bagram prisoner list I compiled in 2011.
One of the busiest journalists in the world
In May 2007, I also started working full-time as a journalist and blogger, focusing specifically on the latest developments at Guantánamo and in the wider “war on terror.” See the homepage, or choose from “Categories” or “Archives” in the right-hand column) for these articles (over 1,500 in total) — and a particularly useful guide to navigating these articles can be found here. These are mostly original work, and mostly full-length articles, and they make up the most sustained commentary about Guantánamo available anywhere online. Many of these articles were initially published in the media mentioned above.
In February 2008, as noted above, I co-wrote a front-page news story with Carlotta Gall for the New York Times (which, apparently, immediately annoyed people in high places in the Bush administration to such an extent that the Times was pressurized to apologize for employing me because I had “a point of view” about Guantánamo) and I have also had articles published by the BBC, in The Raw Story, Index on Censorship, Extra!, the monthly magazine produced by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), Socialist Review, and Amnesty International’s magazines in the Netherlands and Australia. For the 10th anniversary of 9/11 I had articles published in Extra!, and in Australia’s literary journal, Overland, and in May 2013 I wrote an article about the Guantánamo hunger strike for RT. In the summer of 2008 I wrote the entry Guantanamo Scandal for the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, and in 2009 I undertook research and writing on a major report on secret detention for the United Nations (PDF, and also see here, here and here). I have also written for the website Nth Position, and am grateful to the British human rights group Cageprisoners for making so much of my work available in my formative years as a writer on Guantánamo, in addition to the articles written exclusively for them in 2008-2011. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed.
TV and radio
Since September 2007, I have also undertaken numerous TV interviews — with the BBC (on “The Big Questions” on BBC1, and most recently on BBC World News in 2013 and 2014), Al-Jazeera, Democracy Now! (most recently in May 2014), the Islam Channel, Press TV, RT (Russia Today), The Young Turks TV and others — plus many dozens of radio interviews, mainly with progressive stations in the United States, including Peter B. Collins, Dennis Bernstein, Michael Slate and Scott Horton, but also on the BBC World Service, on the Asian Network, and, one memorable occasion on BBC Radio 5 Live, as well as with George Galloway on his TalkSPORT show. More recently, I have been interviewed regularly on RT (Russia Today), on visits to the US and also by Skype, and I have also done a handful of film reviews on Press TV, and videos of these appearances, plus videos of various speaking events, can also be found on my YouTube Channel.
I have also undertaken numerous other interviews by phone or email, and a number of speaking engagements, including the Radical Book Fair in Edinburgh (with Arun Kundnani), and, in 2007-09, various other talks with Moazzam Begg, Zachary Katznelson of Reprieve, and former Guantánamo chaplain James Yee. Appearances in 2008-09 included Q & A sessions following screenings of the Academy Award-winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” at the Frontline Club (with Moazzam Begg) and at the ICA, a talk to a group of sixth-formers in Bromley, a panel discussion in Brighton on the UN’s International Day In Support of Victims of Torture, a seminar at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, a Fabian Society meeting in Brighton with released Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, a workshop on Afghanistan at a Media Workers Against War conference (with Moazzam Begg and photographer Guy Smallman), a talk to a remarkably well-attended Amnesty International student group at Bristol University, an Amnesty event in Guildford with Bruce Kent, and an event to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with speakers including A.C. Grayling. In June 2009, I attended a Q&A session at the BFI following a screening of films by Libyan filmmaker Mohamed Maklouf, and I also attended various protests against Guantánamo, organized by Amnesty International and the London Guantánamo Campaign.
In March 2008 I visited the United States to promote The Guantánamo Files, an inspiring trip, supported by Pluto Press, that involved numerous TV and radio interviews, and events at Columbia University in New York (with colleagues from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Human Rights Watch and the Center for Constitutional Rights) and the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.
More US visits, UK tours and a tour of Poland (2009-2011)
In November 2009, I returned to the US to promote “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” for an event established by the Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia (who brought me over to the US), and a subsequent tour supported by World Can’t Wait, visiting New York, Washington D.C., Berkeley and San Francisco (reports can be found here and here), and in 2010 I undertook an extensive UK tour of the film, mainly with released prisoner Omar Deghayes, but also with Polly Nash and Moazzam Begg, which involved screenings at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre, the National Film Theatre, the Renoir Cinema and Battersea Arts Centre, and a number of universities in London (LSE, SOAS, UCL, South Bank, Birkbeck, Roehampton), and also in Oxford, Bradford, Norwich, Canterbury (where 500 people turned up!), Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Colchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Brighton, Malvern, Bangor and Sheffield. The film was also featured in two international film festivals — the Human Rights, Human Wrongs Film Festival in Oslo in February 2010, and the London International Documentary Festival in April.
In October 2010, I visited the US again, with the support of World Can’t Wait, to take part in numerous speaking events and radio interviews during a week-long series of events, “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, and I returned again in January 2011 to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo in New York and in Washington D.C., a visit which again involved numerous speaking events and TV appearances, including a protest outside The White House on the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo.
At the start of February, I undertook a week-long tour of Poland, showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” and followed this with the start of another UK tour of the film, primarily involving screenings for Amnesty International student groups, with the backing of Amnesty International UK, which came about after I took part in AIUK’s Student Conference in November 2010. I also took part in other Amnesty events in December 2010 and January 2011, and in a fascinating discussion about the future of the media with Nick Davies in Brighton in October 2010.
The 2011 tour of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” involved screenings in London (LSE, King’s, SOAS, Brunel, the Institute of Education, and an Amnesty group in Balham), Bristol, Durham, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Leicester and Hull, Cardiff, Bishops Castle, York and Aberdeen, and it was also featured in three film festivals: the D.C. Independent Film Festival in Washington D.C. (in March), the Bradford International Film Festival (also in March), and the Open City Film Festival in London in June. Also in June, there was a Parliamentary screening by the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas in Portcullis House.
In 2012, I once more visited the US with the support of World Can’t Wait — taking in New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Chicago — to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 10th anniversary of the prison’s opening, and the many events, TV and radio appearances I took part in — including a speech outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill — are chronicled here. I was also involved in establishing a new campaign and website, “Close Guantánamo,” which provides a focal point for telling the prisoners’ stories, via their attorneys, throughout this US election year and into the next administration. I also visited Kuwait in February, to try and help secure the release of the last two Kuwaiti prisoners in Guantánamo, and my reports about that trip are available here, here and here. I also became involved in the campaign to free Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, and encouraged visitors to the site to sign the e-petition to the UK government (which successfully secured 100,000 signatures by its deadline in April 2013) and also to sign the international Care 2 petition to both the US and UK governments, calling for his release. The latter petition is still ongoing.
Throughout the year I also took part in other events — screenings of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” the documentary I co-directed with Polly Nash, at Queen Mary and UCL in London, and the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield in February and March, and in Lewes with the MPs Caroline Lucas and Norman Baker, and the former prisoner Omar Deghayes, in October. I also took part in a panel discussion following an Amnesty International screening of the documentary film, “You Don’t Like the Truth,” about the Canadian citizen and former child prisoner Omar Khadr, in July; a peace conference in Sheffield in October; a talk about Shaker Aamer to the Hull University Amnesty International Society in November; and a discussion after a screening of “The Road to Guantánamo” at Goldsmith’s College in December. I also took part in a number of radio interviews throughout the year, and was interviewed on Democracy Now! and RT in June, after the publication of a major report, “Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago.” Also significant were the articles I published based on information made available to me exclusively by Shaker Aamer (via one of his lawyers, Ramzi Kassem), which can be found here, here and here, and a report on 55 prisoners cleared for release but still held (out of 86 in total), who were publicly named for the first time in September by the Justice Department.
In the UK, I tried to keep up with the horrors of life in Tory Britain — especially the planned privatisation of the NHS, which consumed much of my life in the first few months of the year, the madness of the housing market and the government’s unforgiveable vilification of the disabled. Later in the year, I also became deeply involved in the campaign to save my local hospital, Lewisham Hospital, from having its A&E Department closed, and other services severely downgraded, in order to save a neighbouring trust that had sunk into profound financial difficulties because of the burden of the profoundly unfair — I would say criminally unfair — PFI deals negotiated when the trust secured new hospital buildings. That battle was finally won in October 2013, and the hospital is now safe, at least for the foreseeable future. I am also involved in London-wide and national campaigning to save the NHS from politicians and from its own senior management, who have forgotten what its purpose is.
In January 2013, I again visited the US — with the support of the campaigning group Witness Against Torture, Close Guantánamo and World Can’t Wait — to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo, and the events I took part in can be found here. Below is a video of the speech I gave outside the White House on January 11, 2013, the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, which, I believe, captures the urgent need for President Obama to revisit his broken promise to close Guantánamo, or to have it as an indelible scar on his legacy. In addition, photos of the events I took part in can be found here, here and here.
In January 2014, I again visited the US, on the 12th anniversary of the opening of the prison, for a two-week “Close Guantánamo NOW” tour organized by World Can’t Wait, in which I visited New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and — for the first time — Los Angeles and Southern California. Please see here for videos, reports and photos.
I continue to write about Guantánamo regularly, and to talk about the situation there — and the stories of the men still held — on TV and radio shows, as well as through personal appearances, including, in 2013, appearances at Brighton University and the University of Westminster with Omar Deghayes, at the University of Birmingham, and at Tooting Islamic Centre with Jane Ellison MP and Jean Lambert MEP, to discuss the case of Shaker Aamer. In February 2013, a majority of the prisoners embarked on a hunger strike, in despair at being abandoned by the US government, and there was, for the first time in many years, sustained, media interest. I was interviewed by the BBC, RT and Press TV (also see here and here), and took part in numerous radio interviews, including with the BBC World Service, and I will continue to campaign for the cleared prisoners to be freed, and for the prison to be closed.
Throughout 2013, I also continued to campaign for Shaker Aamer, joining vigils in Parliament Square (see here, here and here, and I also took part in other events — an event for Bradley Manning in London in May, and a protest against the NSA-controlled base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire on the American Day of Independence.
In 2014, my campaigning continued. After my US visit in January, I spoke at a regional conference for Amnesty International in Leicester in February, and spoke at another Amnesty International event at the Human Rights Action Centre in London in March, as part of a UK tour by Dennis Edney, the Scottish-born Canadian lawyer for former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr, who is still imprisoned in Canada. In February I was delighted to be invited to attend the presentation in the Oxford Union of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence to Chelsea Manning, which was received on his behalf by childhood friend Aaron Kirkhouse.
In June I was on Democracy Now! discussing Guantánamo, in September I took part in a memorable show about Guantánamo on CCTV, and in October I spoke to RT and broadcaster Richie Allen about the perils of TTIP (the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).
I also continued to attend events for Shaker Aamer — see photos of the February 14 protest outside MI6 HQ here, and one of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign’s many Parliamentary vigils outside Parliament — this one in July — here. I also attended Parliamentary meetings for Shaker in June and November, and the London protest in Trafalgar Square as part of a global day of action against Guantánamo on May 23, which was the first outing of a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer that became a key part of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, launched in November to demand Shaker’s immediate release and his return to his family in the UK.
From March to October 2008 I was the Communications Manager for Reprieve, the legal action charity that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay, in 2009 (as mentioned above) I undertook research and writing on a major report on secret detention for the United Nations, and from June 2010 to December 2011 I worked for Cageprisoners, on a part-time basis, as a Senior Researcher.
In April and May 2011, I also worked as a media partner of WikiLeaks during the release of the classified military documents relating to the prisoners at Guantánamo, known as Detainee Assessment Briefs, which, to discerning eyes, helped to undermine still further the US authorities’ claims that Guantánamo is anything other than a house of cards based on torture, coercion, bribery and false confessions.
I am also on the steering committee of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, a member of the No More Guantánamos Advisory Board, and a member of the War Criminals Watch Advisory Board. I also count myself, proudly, as a supporter of World Can’t Wait and Witness Against Torture.
Please contact me if you would like to interview me, or if you would like to engage me as a speaker or a writer. Alternatively, you can contact my publicists at Pluto Press on +44 (0)20 8348 2724 or email Jon Wheatley.
You can also find information on this site about my previous books, Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion (one of 50 books chosen as part of the London Libraries’ promotion, A Book with a View, which ran from May to September 2007), and The Battle of the Beanfield, which can be ordered through this site.
My first book, Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion, a social history of Stonehenge described by SchNEWS as “by far the best bit of modern British social history I’ve seen,” was published by Alternative Albion, an imprint of Heart of Albion Press, in June 2004. I also compiled and edited The Battle of the Beanfield, published by Enabler Publications in June 2005.
As a journalist, my pre-Guantánamo work was published in newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Fortean Times, the Idler, Festival Eye, SchNEWS, British Archaeology, 3rd Stone and on the Nth Position website.
In June 2006, I compered a Battle of the Beanfield 21st anniversary reunion at the Assembly Rooms in Glastonbury (see Beanfield reunion photos), and I also appeared at the Big Green Gathering in August, where I gave an overview of festivals, alternative communities and protest movements from the 1960s to the present day.
In 2004 and 2005 I toured around the country with an exhibition of photos of the Stonehenge festivals and the Battle of the Beanfield (including photos by Alan Lodge, Adrian Arbib and Tim Malyon). This was shown at the Glastonbury Festival, the Kingston Green Fair, the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge and the Stroud Arts Festival (Space 05), and also at pioneering cooperative social centres in Brighton (the Cowley Club), Bristol (Kebele), London (the Vertigo Club) and Nottingham (the Sumac Centre).
I also gave talks about Stonehenge at the Big Green Gathering and the Shambala Festival, Rainbow 2000 camps in Wales and the Forest of Dean, and at various venues in Cambridge (Libra Aries Books), London (Housmans Bookshop, The Urban 75 Offline Club, The Moot with No Name, SELFS, London Earth Mysteries, the South London Radical History Group and the Brockley Max arts festival), Manchester (New Aeon Books), Oxford (Oxford Pagan Circle), Penzance (Cornish Earth Mysteries Group) and Slough (the Fenner Brockway Memorial Lecture — with human rights lawyer Louise Christian and Labour activist Walter Wolfgang — at the FennerFest arts festival). Some of these events involved screenings of the excellent — if harrowing — 1991 Beanfield documentary Operation Solstice, directed by Neil Goodwin and Gareth Morris.
I was also occasionally invited to conferences — ‘Megalithomania!’ in 2002, organised by 3rd Stone and Strange Attractor, the Pagan Federation International Conventions in 2003 and 2004, and ‘Exploring the Maltese Prehistoric Temple Culture’, an international conference in Malta in 2003. In 2006 I gave a talk at the first Pagan Network Convention, held in London in March, and was also part of an inter-disciplinary conference in Bristol, ‘The Cultural Reception of Prehistoric Monuments 1600-2000’, organized by the historians Ronald Hutton and Joanne Parker, which took place in April. And in May I spoke about the pagan reinvention of Stonehenge and Avebury at the first Megalithomania conference in Glastonbury, an exciting weekend that also featured the likes of Robin Heath and John Michell.
When not tackling global injustice, I live quietly in south London with my wife and son.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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