Friday, July 30, 2010

A "Dangerous International Precedent": Demonstrate against the trial of Omar Khadr

The London Guantánamo Campaign’s monthly demonstration outside the US Embassy in Mayfair will be extended on Friday, 6 August to a two-hour action from 5-7pm to mark the first military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay since President Obama took power and the first time since World War II that a child soldier is being tried for war crimes.Accused of throwing a grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan in July 2002, killing one soldier and other war crimes, 23-year old Canadian national Omar Khadr is to become the person since Nuremberg to be put on trial for offences alleged committed as a minor. Held at Guantánamo Bay since October 2002, he has been tortured and abused:
At a pre-trial hearing in April, a US interrogator admitted to threatening him with gang rape and murder if he refused to confess. Mr. Khadr has tried to boycott the commission he has described as a “sham” and to fire his legal team. It is unlikely that he will get a fair trial and any “evidence” against him is tenuous at best.
His military commission has been condemned by the United Nations Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflicts, the head of UNICEF, international NGOs and others. Although international law does not expressly prohibit the prosecution of child soldiers, it limits it considerably and does not allow for a life sentence, which Omar Khadr faces. International law views child soldiers as victims and not criminals. With over 300,000 child soldiers estimated in various conflicts worldwide, the precedent that could be set by trial is truly dangerous and could have harmful consequences for the safety of millions of children caught up in armed conflicts.
A letter he recently wrote to his Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney was published in the Washington:
Please join us on FRIDAY 6 AUGUST 2010 AT 5-7PM outside the US EMBASSY, GROSVENOR SQUARE, LONDON W1A 1AE (nearest tube: Bond Street/Marble)

LGC Newsletter – July 2010

Guantánamo Bay:

Student Mohamed Al-Odaini was the first prisoner to be returned to Yemen this year following an order to repatriate him by the US government after a court ordered his release. He was returned to his family in Yemen on 14 July. The US Department of Defense issued the following press release at the time:
The US government has maintained its position that it will not be releasing any further Yemeni prisoners in the near future citing security concerns. At a high-level meeting between the US and Yemeni governments earlier this year, the Yemenis pressed for the release and return to the country of all their prisoners still held at Guantánamo Bay. They comprise the single largest nationality of prisoners still held at the prison and over half of them (more than 40 prisoners) have been cleared for release.

In worrying news for British resident Ahmed Belbacha, 35 year old Abdul Aziz Naji, a fellow Algerian prisoner at Guantánamo Bay who had also chosen to remain at the illegal prison rather than return to Algeria where he faces a risk of torture, was forcibly repatriated by the US on 18 July. A Supreme Court ruling the week before (17 July) cleared the way for the return to Algeria of two men, the other being 49 year old Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed, who reportedly lived in the UK and Germany among other countries after fleeing Algeria in the 1990s. Farhi Saeed could also be repatriated at any time. The two men had argued that if returned to Algeria they would face a risk of being abused due to their alleged association with terrorism having been held at Guantánamo. Neither has ever been charged of any crime and both were cleared for release last year. The two are from a group of six Algerian prisoners, including Ahmed Belbacha, who would rather remain at Guantánamo Bay than be returned to Algeria. Mr. Naji had fled persecution in Algeria prior to going to Pakistan. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported that this is the first time a prisoner has been involuntarily repatriated by the Obama administration:
Upon his return to Algeria, his lawyers reported that he had “disappeared”, which the Algerian government denied. On 26 July, the Algerian authorities officially announced he had been indicted (on unspecified charges) and was being held under “judicial supervision”. Previous returnees to Algeria have been held for up to two weeks by the government before being released or later sentenced.
At the same time as Naji’s release, a Syrian prisoner was released to Cape Verde. On 22 July two more prisoners were released to Latvia and Spain. They have not been named. 176 prisoners remain.

Journalist Andy Worthington has updated his definitive list of Guantánamo prisoners, providing information and articles about their cases as well as the latest news about the prisoners over this year. A useful source for research and general interest:

Canadian prisoner Omar Khadr, now 23 but 15 when he was captured, will be the first prisoner to be tried before a military commission next month. Mr. Khadr has slammed it as a “sham process” and tried to fire his American military lawyers in protest. He has now agreed to allow them to represent him. Charges against him include having killed a US soldier with a grenade in Afghanistan when he was 15. The evidence against him is considered to be tenuous at best and most countries, and international legal practice, is against bringing child soldiers to trial; this has not happened since World War II. A defence motion will be made before the commission starts to consider whether or not torture was used to obtain evidence. At a pre-trial hearing earlier in the month when the US tried to offer him a plea deal that would see him released in 5 years if he admitted to killing the soldier and committing other war crimes, Mr. Khadr rejected this plea. At an earlier hearing in this case, an interrogator admitted having threatened Mr. Khadr with gang rape and murder to make him comply and confess during interrogations. Omar Khadr’s trial will be the first of a child soldier since Nuremberg and the first military commission at Guantánamo Bay under the Obama administration.
North of the US border, much legal wrangling has gone on over this month with efforts by Mr. Khadr’s legal team in Canada to have him repatriated to the country, however the Canadian government has consistently blocked such moves. On 5 July, a Federal Court judge gave the Canadian government a week within which to think of alternative methods of remedying a breach of Mr. Khadr’s human rights under the constitution (as ruled in a case earlier this year) or to demand his repatriation. The Canadian government decided on 12 July to appeal this order, claiming that the courts could not provide direction on diplomatic matters. The appeal court judge agreed with the government after a quick hearing on 23 June paving the way for Mr. Khadr’s commission to go ahead. Either through conviction or acquittal at the trial, he still faces the prospect of continued arbitrary detention.

Extraordinary Rendition:
On 6 July, Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement in the House of Commons about the scope and intent of the forthcoming torture inquiry: A three-person team led by Intelligence Services Commissioner, former judge Sir Peter Gibson, will oversee the inquiry and decide the terms of it, the scope and what witnesses will be called, etc. The inquiry will focus on the role of the security services and while the prime minister emphasised its independence, he has given himself the final say on what will and will not be made public. The inquiry will have limited powers and effect; for example, the inquiry will not have the power to make witnesses appear before it and no mention has yet been made of any sanctions for complicity in crimes against humanity. On the same day, the government published new guidelines that were made public on how the security services are to operate, particularly with respect to questioning prisoners. However, the old guidance, which was operational during the alleged incidents of involvement in torture and rendition remain secret; this has been criticised by human rights organisations. The government also announced a green paper next year to try to limit the possibility of cases being brought such as the Binyam Mohamed case, which caused great embarrassment to the former Labour government and its diplomatic relations with the US. The prime minister also expressed his hope that the inquiry’s work would be wound up within a year.
There are various hurdles the government will have to overcome first; while the inquiry is welcome, much criticism has already been made of its degree of impartiality, scope and effect. Outstanding court cases, in particular the current case involving six former prisoners need to be settled first. The government is seeking an out-of-court settlement with the men and will offer them compensation. The men have stated that their silence cannot be bought:
In the week following the torture inquiry statement, this case went back to the courts where the disclosure was ordered of some of the documents that had previously been kept secret in the case. With over half a million documents, mainly obtained from MI5 and MI6, and over 60 government lawyers working on them, going through the evidence and the case itself could take years. The government has formally asked the courts to suspend the case to allow the men to hold talks with the government; it is not clear if lawyers for the men will agree to such talks until more is disclosed about what the government knew. The documents disclosed on 14 July, some of which can be read at: (although heavily redacted), show that the government was well aware of the transfer of prisoners to Guantánamo Bay in 2002 and approved of the detention of British nationals there. The British government backed the move and frustrated attempts at various levels to help British nationals and residents held there. In the case of Martin Mubanga, a British-Zambian national, one of the men involved in the case, who was kidnapped in Zambia before being taken to Guantánamo Bay, the government was fully aware of what was going on and failed to intervene in his case. The disclosed documents, the mere tip of the iceberg, show just how very much involved and approving Tony Blair’s government was of detention at Guantánamo Bay and extraordinary rendition. Senior ministers in Blair’s government denied the statements in these documents for years, claiming not to have any knowledge of what the Americans were doing.
On 20 July, Reprieve director Clive Stafford-Smith wrote to Sir Peter Gibson asking him to step down from leading the torture inquiry in the interest of independence. The letter can be read at:
Despite the government’s desire to conclude the inquiry within a year and draw a line under this episode, there are many obstacles the government has to overcome. The London Guantánamo Campaign is in particular concerned about the openness, independence and limited remit of the inquiry. In order to fulfil its stated aims and to do justice to the victims and the wider public, the inquiry must be independent, open and as broad as possible.

On 23 July, The Independent reported that MI5 had been openly involved in the rendition of a Moroccan national from Belgium to the UK where he was held and questioned. This is the first such case of active involvement in rendition. He had been brought to the UK against his will and granted the right to stay under extraordinary circumstances (for questioning) by the Home Secretary and was asked to work for the intelligence services in the UK. More on this news:

LGC Activities:
The August monthly Shut Down Guantánamo! will be on Friday 6 August at 5-7pm. Six people attended the July demonstration. The August demonstration has been extended in protest at the military commission of Omar Khadr which is to start on 10 August – the first trial since Obama became president and the first time a child soldier will be brought to trial for war crimes in over 60 years. It could set a dangerous precedent for the protection of children involved in armed conflict elsewhere.

The LGC launched an urgent action for Ahmed Belbacha on 28 August and urges everyone to write to their MP and the Foreign Secretary to take action to allow Ahmed Belbacha to settle in the UK:

London Guantánamo Campaign

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

LGC Urgent Action: Ahmed Belbacha at Risk of Forced Return to Algeria



On 17 July, a US Supreme Court ruling resulted in an Algerian national, Abdul Aziz Naji being forcibly repatriated to Algeria. This ruling paves the way for the forced return of the remaining five Algerian nationals, of whom British resident Ahmed Belbacha is one. All six men, who for years have been cleared for release, had refused to return to Algeria where they fear torture and death.

Upon return to Algeria, Mr. Naji “disappeared”, and on 26 July it was confirmed that he had been indicted on unspecified charges, and was subject to judicial supervision (i.e. imprisonment).

This is the first time that any prisoner has been repatriated against his will under the Obama administration. His repatriation was condemned by Human Rights Watch and may well constitute a violation of the principle of non-refoulement, a principle of international law which prevents the return of vulnerable persons to countries where their lives or freedom may be at risk.

The US government is keen to repatriate the remaining Algerians, and while Algeria previously only accepted prisoners who wished to return there, it is now happy to acquiesce in their forced repatriation.

Ahmed Belbacha:

Ahmed Belbacha is a 40-year old Algerian who lived in the UK for 18 months in 2000-2001. Cleared for release in 2007, he has chosen to remain at Guantánamo Bay, rather than face the risk to his life in Algeria. This risk was compounded in November 2009 when he was sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence in absentia for membership of “a terrorist organisation overseas”. No real evidence was produced to back this up.

Ahmed Belbacha now faces the imminent threat of repatriation to Algeria against his will. His lawyers are currently working through the US courts to block his repatriation.

Given that he lived in the UK for 18 months, we believe that on humanitarian grounds, the UK must offer to settle Ahmed Belbacha. The UK government has never sought his return. His lawyer at Reprieve, Tara Murray, has said, “We are in desperate need of help from the British people and organisations like yours to put pressure on the British government to bring Ahmed back to the UK so that he can escape the torture and lawlessness that awaits him if he’s sent back to Algeria”.
For more details on his case:

Take action for Ahmed Belbacha:

1. Write to your MP (find them at and the Foreign Secretary (, urging them to take immediate action to seek the release of Ahmed Belbacha to the United Kingdom. Model letter below: please feel free to modify and personalise.

2. Write to the Algerian Embassy. In the past, the Algerian government has not sought the return of prisoners who did not wish to return there. Please write to the Algerian authorities, asking them not to accept the forced repatriation of prisoners who do not wish to return there, and that they ensure that prisoners who are returned are treated fairly. The Algerian Embassy in London: The Permanent Mission of Algeria at the United Nations:

Please let the London Guantánamo Campaign know if you get a response. Thank you.

Dear MP/ William Hague (Foreign Secretary),

I am writing to you as a matter of urgency, concerning the case of Ahmed Belbacha, a British resident who has been held at Guantánamo Bay for over eight years.

Mr Belbacha is a 40-year old Algerian who lived in the UK for 18 months in 2000-2001, having fled Algeria where his life was at risk. While travelling in Pakistan, he was captured and taken to Guantánamo Bay. Cleared for release in 2007, he has chosen to remain at Guantánamo Bay, rather than face risk to his life in Algeria. This risk was compounded in November 2009 when he was sentenced in absentia, to 20 years in prison for “membership of a terrorist organisation overseas”. No real evidence was produced to back this up.

On 17 July, a US Supreme Court ruling resulted in an Algerian national, Abdul Aziz Naji being forcibly repatriated to Algeria. Upon return to Algeria, Mr. Naji “disappeared”, and on 26 July it was confirmed that he had been indicted on unspecified charges, and was subject to judicial supervision (i.e. imprisonment). His return, the first forced repatriation under the Obama administration, was strongly condemned by Human Rights Watch. There is a strong likelihood that in sending Mr. Naji back to Algeria, the US government has breached the principle of non-refoulement.

This ruling paves the way for the forced return of Ahmed Belbacha.

Mr Belbacha’s return to the UK was not sought by the previous government. However, we maintain that given his ties to this country, he should be allowed to return here on humanitarian grounds. Such a move would provide him with a safe haven, and act as a gesture of cooperation with the US in its efforts to find countries for prisoners, and thereby close the prison. Several other European countries have taken this action, providing residence to non-nationals as a means of assisting the US. I urge you to take urgent action for Ahmed Belbacha to ensure a safe end to his wholly illegal ordeal over the past eight years.

I look forward to your response,

Yours sincerely,

London Guantánamo Campaign
28 July 2010

Thursday, July 08, 2010

London Guantánamo Campaign public statement on the announced torture inquiry

The London Guantánamo Campaign welcomes David Cameron’s statement in the House of Commons on 6 July concerning an inquiry into the Intelligence Services’ involvement in the “mistreatment” of terror suspects abroad over the past nine years. This is a positive step, but there are several problematic issues that we hope will be addressed before the start of the inquiry.
An official inquiry into such matters must be held openly if it is to be truly in the public interest. Secrecy, in an inquiry led by a former judge who serves as the Intelligence Services Commissioner, only risks further “tarnishing” the very “human rights, justice, fairness and the rule of law” that the Prime Minister claims the Intelligence Services exist to protect. That the Prime Minister has given himself the power to decide what may and may not be made public will do little to engender confidence. The inquiry, as broadly proposed, will almost certainly result in the further lack of accountability and transparency that has been so effective at destroying public trust in the government and Intelligence Services.
Breaches of international obligations by the Intelligence Services and the ministries they serve under have not only been alleged but proven in some cases. Allegations of torture must be judged according to the international obligations to which Britain is a State party and not as mere “mistreatment”, which has no legal definition as such. Some consideration must also be given to the human consequences of our complicity in these most heinous of crimes against humanity. It is unfortunate that the emphasis in this inquiry appears to be on protecting international relations at the expense of protecting the vulnerable in our society and compliance with internationally recognised legal standards for the protection of human beings.
The narrow remit and limited powers of the inquiry are unjust both to the public and the very people who have suffered such horrific treatment. Unless all allegations are considered equally and openly and all relevant witnesses, including former ministers and senior civil servants, are heard, no lines can be drawn under this issue, public confidence in the security services and government will not be restored and the inquiry will be little more than an academic exercise.

The Prime Minister also announced new guidance for the Intelligence Services and the introduction of a green paper next year on how intelligence is dealt with in the courts. It is important to remember that our international relations and intelligence would not be compromised and we would not be engaged in costly inquiries had this country not been complicit in any way in international wrongdoing over the past nine years at the expense of the taxpayer. We will live with the consequences of such practices for a long time. Torture as a means can never be justified by the ends; similarly, inequitable practices in the inquiry cannot be justified by the intent of the inquiry itself. We hope that the torture inquiry will draw a line under this sorry episode of our history, bring an end to the pattern of repeat abuse and offer some closure to the victims and their families. We also hope that the government and the three-member inquiry will address the criticisms made thus far.
London Guantánamo Campaign, 8 July 2010

Thursday, July 01, 2010

LGC Newsletter – June 2010

British Residents:
On 18 June, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (SSAC) organised the hand in of a letter to Downing Street demanding the return of Shaker Aamer to the UK. The letter was delivered by former prisoner and director of Cageprisoners Moazzam Begg, journalist Victoria Brittain, John Clossick from Wandsworth Stop The War, Bruce MacKenzie (SSAC) and Jane Ellison MP (Conservative for Battersea). The letter called on the Coalition government to make the “strongest representations possible to the US administration to secure Shaker’s release and return to this country".

Guantánamo Bay:
At the end of May, in a long-running case involving several Uighur prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected their claims to be released to the US, upholding an earlier decision that it was only for the US government to decide who can and cannot enter the country and on what terms. This case involves five men, who have received offers of resettlement but have rejected them. Other Uighur prisoners have been released and resettled in Bermuda, Palau and Switzerland. The Uighur prisoners are afraid that if released, China will ask the countries they are resettled in to repatriate them. The judge also held that since the men had been offered to be resettled elsewhere, they held “the keys to their release from Guantanamo”. Following habeas corpus reviews (allowing the men to know why they were being imprisoned), it was held that all the Uighur prisoners had been wrongly captured and imprisoned. However, once tarred with the brush of association with terrorism and terrorist organisations, their return to their native China, where they are already a persecuted minority, was made almost impossible.

The US government has ordered the repatriation of Yemeni prisoner Mohamed Al-Odaini to his country. Al-Odaini was captured aged 18 in Pakistan where he was studying. In 2005, a military review approved his release and in May this year, a US judge found that his imprisonment was unlawful. The US government has agreed that there is no evidence of any links between Mr. Al-Odaini and any terrorist organisation. His repatriation comes although the US government is still strictly refusing to allow any Yemeni prisoners, who make up the single largest nationality of prisoners and of those who are actually free to leave, to be returned to their country, following a halt to this at the beginning of the year on the ground of security concerns. The Yemeni government is calling for the return of all its nationals. Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action for Mr. Al-Odaini calling for his release, which was circulated by the LGC. Amnesty thanks everyone who took part in this action. Although allowing the release of Mr. Al-Odaini, the US administration is maintaining the suspension of the transfer of other prisoners back to Yemen, stating that Mr. Al-Odaini’s release was court-ordered.

In early June, the American NGO Physicians for Human Rights published a report Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the “Enhanced” Interrogation Program: The report, which used an extensive range of government reports and documents about the involvement of medical personnel at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere in the design and use of techniques on terrorism suspects that are in breach of national and international law and ethical principles medical professionals must follow. The doctors assisted the government knowingly in redefining definitions and methods to make them appear ethical and safe when used on suspects. This involved determining how far one could go in an interrogation before the techniques used were illegal and designing interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to make it less likely that the subject would die or suffer permanent noticeable damage. Based on the medical advice given, interrogators could then claim they had acted in accordance with recognised medical standards. Doctors have also been known to withhold information about the physical condition of prisoners and involved in torture in other ways that are in breach of their professional ethics.

At a hearing on 14 June in Washington DC, 24 activists from the American NGO Witness Against Torture were acquitted of unlawful entry, following their arrest at a demonstration on the steps of Capitol Hill on 21 January 2010, the date that President Obama had promised to close down Guantánamo Bay. They were arrested for holding banners stating “Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives”. One of the persons acquitted, Ellen Graves said, “Our acquittal is a victory for free speech and for the right of Americans to stand up for those falsely imprisoned and abused at Guantánamo. We tried to shine a light on the unconstitutional policies of the Bush and now the Obama administrations. That light shone brightly today.” On the day following their acquittal (15 June), a coalition of groups, including Witness Against Torture and the Center for Constitutional Rights met with Portia Roberson, the head of the Office of Public Liaison at the US Department of Justice to discuss their “frustration with detention policies under the Obama administration and articulate … [the steps they would]… like to see the Justice Department take”. Those attending felt the meeting to be positive and delivered a letter of their demands to the US Justice Department, which can be read at:

Three former prisoners released to Slovakia have announced that they are going on hunger strike, due to the poor living conditions they face in the country. They told the director of Amnesty International Slovakia that it is worse than Guantánamo Bay. The three men are being held at a detention facility in Medvedov and claim they have been mistreated by the prison authorities, only have a bed and sink as facilities, are only allowed to leave their rooms for an hour each day and are not allowed to communicate with anyone except their lawyer and prison staff. The Slovak authorities have stated that the prisoners are looked after well. For more on this news:

In an editorial in the New York Times on 26 June, it was reported that closing Guantánamo Bay is no longer a priority for the Obama administration and it is unlikely that it will close before the end of his first term in 2013: Lack of political will and legislative blocks to plans to move prisoners to the US mainland as well as more recent attempted attacks on the US, such as the failed Christmas plane bombing and the failed Times Square bombing have changed priorities and shifted the focus from what President Obama himself had called a “failed experiment”, not to mention the illegality of the prison. A recent study by the Pentagon has also shown that Guantánamo Bay cost US taxpayers over $2 billion in 2002-2009 and with shifting rhetoric in the media and government, there is currently strong support for it remaining open in the US.

Extraordinary Rendition:
On 2 June, at the ongoing Baha Moussa inquiry, into the death of an Iraqi citizen who was tortured by British forces, former armed forces minister Adam Ingram told the inquiry that he had misled parliament over prisoners being hooded by British troops. Following a review into practices against Republicans in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, hooding was one of the practices that was banned and the government has since assured the public that such practices, which amount to inhumane treatment, have not been used since by British troops. Mr Ingram had told the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) that hooding had only been used during the transport of prisoners, however he revealed at the inquiry that he had documents that proved that Mr. Moussa had been hooded for 24 out of the 36 hours he had been held in custody prior to his death. Other documents Mr. Ingram had access to at his ministry show contradictions with statements he made in parliament concerning whether or not the British army used such practices. Baha Moussa, a hotel receptionist, died aged 26 in 2003 after being arrested with several colleagues and tortured by British troops in Basra. He was beaten to death and had sustained almost 100 injuries. The inquiry is ongoing.
For more on this news:

Following statements last month by Foreign Secretary William Hague that the coalition government would hold an inquiry into allegations of British involvement in torture and extraordinary rendition, on 29 June, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he had agreed to the terms this inquiry would take, which will be announced publicly soon. The inquiry may take place soon. It is widely reported that the inquiry may offer compensation to victims and is likely to be judge-led. On 25 June, Andrew Tyrie MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition published a legal opinion he had obtained from two barristers that although there are currently several court cases, with criminal and civil charges, pending against the Intelligence Services for involvement in torture abroad, there were safeguards in place that could prevent these cases being prejudiced by any official government inquiry. The opinion can be read at: It concludes that an inquiry can be started immediately. Commenting on the news that the terms of the inquiry had been approved, Mr. Tyrie said, “The Government should commence this inquiry without further delay” and “This inquiry can only be of lasting benefit if its remit is wide enough to include not only complicity in the torture of terrorist suspects, but also allegations of complicity in extraordinary rendition. Its reach must also be broader than just the security services and must include other government officials.” Moreover, on 28 June, in a judicial review brought by Reprieve at the High Court to have the legality of guidance given to MI5 and MI6 officers involved in questioning suspects abroad, the action was dismissed by the judge as the government has now said that it will rewrite and publish this policy soon. The former Labour government has promised to published new guidelines in March 2009 but failed to, leading Reprieve to bring an action against it in the courts instead, as without new guidelines, suspects questioned abroad are left largely vulnerable to abusive treatment and torture. The earlier guidelines, revised in 2004, are considered to be illegal but the revisions made have been kept secret. In early June, Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, praised the coalition government’s calls for an inquiry and said that it provided an example to other countries, particularly as "if well done it could set an example for other countries". He called for this inquiry to be thorough and particularly urged all Council Members (all European countries except Belarus) to investigate their role in rendition flights urgently and thoroughly.

On 14 June, the US Supreme Court dismissed a case by Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin who was a victim of extraordinary rendition. Mr. Arar has already successfully sued his own government which also apologised for its involvement in his rendition and torture. Seized by the CIA in New York while returning from a family holiday in 2002, Mr. Arar was taken to Syria as an alleged Al Qaeda member, where he was tortured for over a year. He was later put on a terrorism blacklist by the US government. He sued Attorney General John Ashcroft, the head of the FBI and several members of the US government in 2004. Lower courts claimed that he did not have standing to sue the American government and prior to this dismissal of his claim, President Obama had urged the Supreme Court to reject the claim. The US has never apologised for Mr. Arar’s ordeal. For more details on this news:
An interview with BBC World Service a few days after his case was rejected:

On 29 June, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a new report No Questions Asked: Intelligence Cooperation With Countries That Torture, concerning the UK, France and Germany: The report states that these countries use intelligence obtained through torture to combat terrorism. It states that intelligence services in these countries cooperate with regimes that torture, such as Syria and Algeria, and also use the evidence obtained in domestic trials, which is in breach of international law.

Rangzieb Ahmed, currently facing a life sentence for terrorism-related offences, has won the right to appeal his convictions, following allegations that the security services were involved in his torture in Pakistan. He claims that while imprisoned in Pakistan he was beaten and had his finger nails pulled out. Following that, he was questioned, in Pakistan by MI5 and MI6 agents. Last year, using parliamentary privilege, David Davis MP read out a statement in parliament of the torture Mr. Ahmed had faced. Commenting at the time, Mr. Davis said, “I cannot imagine a more obvious case of the outsourcing of torture, a more obvious case of 'passive rendition'." More on this news:

LGC Activities:
The June monthly Shut Down Guantánamo! will be on Friday 2 July at 6-7pm outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, W1A 1AE. Three people attended the June demonstration.

The LGC asked residents of the Brent Central constituency in northwest London to add their names to a letter to be sent to local MP Sarah Teather concerning the case of Ahmed Belbacha, who faces the imminent risk of being returned to Algeria. Around 35 local people added their names to the letter. Many thanks to everyone who did.

The LGC held a demonstration outside the US Embassy on 26 June, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in solidarity with victims of extraordinary rendition. Around 70 people attended the action which was addressed by several speakers. A report of the action can be read at

The LGC will be holding a campaigns meeting which all are welcome to join on Thursday 29 July at 7pm at the Tricycle Café, 269 Kilburn High Road, NW6 (nearest underground: Kilburn). The café is in the Tricycle Theatre and is fully accessible.