UK Appeals Court Rules Abdel Hakim Belhaj, Rendered to Torture in Gaddafi’s Libya, Can Sue British Government

What a long road to justice this is turning out to be. Back in December 2011, Abdel Hakim Belhaj (aka Belhadj), a former opponent of the Gaddafi regime, who, in 2004, in an operation that involved the British security services, was kidnapped in China with his pregnant wife and delivered to Colonel Gaddafi, first attempted to sue the British government — and, specifically, the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw, MI6’s former director of counter-terrorism, Sir Mark Allen, the Foreign Office, the Home Office and MI5.

Since then, the government has fought to prevent him having his day in court, but on Thursday the court of appeal ruled, as the Guardian described it, that the case “should go ahead despite government attempts to resist it on grounds of the ‘act of state doctrine’, arguing that the courts could not inquire into what happened because it involved a foreign state.” The Guardian added that the ruling “establishes a significant precedent for other claims,” although it is possible, of course, that the Foreign Office will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Guardian also noted that the British government had “maintained that the UK’s relations with the US would be seriously damaged if Belhaj was allowed to sue and make his case in a British court.” However, the judgment said that “while the trial relating to the couple’s rendition was likely to require a British court to assess the wrongfulness of acts by the CIA and Libyan agents, that was no reason to bar the claim.” Read the rest of this entry »

Guantánamo: British Ex-Intelligence Officer On Hunger Strike in Support of Shaker Aamer

On Monday, Harry Ferguson, 52, a former officer with MI6, the British intelligence agency, began a week-long hunger strike, as part of the Stand Fast for Justice initiative launched by the legal action charity Reprieve, in support of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay — and, in particular, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who continues to be held despite being cleared for release by a military review board under President Bush in 2007 and by President Obama’s inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force in January 2010. Others who have been hunger striking as part of the campaign include Julie Christie, the comedian Frankie Boyle, and Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith.

Shaker is one of 86 men cleared for release by the task force but still held at Guantánamo, because of a lack of political will on the part of President Obama and obstruction by Congress, and has been part of the prison-wide hunger strike that began in February. At its peak, the hunger strike involved up to 130 of the remaining 166 prisoners. That figure has apparently fallen recently, but 37 men are still being force-fed, a painful process that medical experts condemn as torture.

Explaining his reasons for embarking on a hunger strike in solidarity with Shaker and the other prisoners, Mr. Ferguson gave a statement that ought to shame everyone in the British establishment who has colluded with the Bush and Obama administrations in the lawlessness of the last 12 years, since the 9/11 attacks. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 (The State of London).
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