Sunday, January 11, 2015

Is This Who We Are? Action to mark 13 years of Guantánamo, Sunday 11 January 2015

Join us on 11 January - we will need volunteers for this action. To volunteer, please get in touch. If you'd like to film or photograph the event, please let us know!
This action will be followed later in the evening by a global Twitter storm - look out for more details

Friday, October 31, 2014

LGC Newsletter – October 2014


NEWS:
Guantánamo Bay:
In early October, an important court case was held in a US federal court in Washington on the legality of the force-feeding regime for hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Just days before the hearing before the court in which lawyers for hunger-striking Syrian prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab and lawyers for the US government presented their arguments, Judge Gladys Kessler rejected a plea by the US government to have the hearing held in secret on the grounds of national security. She stated in a written ruling that “With such a longstanding and ongoing public interest at stake, it would be particularly egregious to bar the public from observing the credibility of live witnesses, the substance of their testimony, whether proper procedures are being followed, and whether the court is treating all participants fairly”
The judge also ordered that 20 videotapes showing the force-feeding procedure being administered to prisoners be released by the US military. The military only admitted the existence of the tapes earlier in these proceedings but has refused to allow the court to see them.
The hearing started on 6 October, during which his lawyers argued that the force-feeding is a form of torture and not a medical procedure, as claimed by the US administration. They also challenged the violent way in which prisoners are taken and prepared for force-feeding. Although several sessions of the 3-day hearing were held in closed court, important information about hunger strikes at Guantánamo Bay has emerged, such as the fact that six prisoners were on permanent hunger strike between 2007 and the start of the current hunger strike in February 2013, or even longer.
The judge gave the US military until 17 October to release videotapes, however just days before that, it was rumoured that the government might appeal this decision and instead a 30-day extension was given to release the tapes.
Later in October, news organisations added to the pressure for the tapes to be released as did Democrat congressmen Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison in a letter to Barack Obama calling the secrecy surrounding the videotapes “contrary to American laws or values” and stating that “The facts pertaining to these practices at Guantánamo should be available to members of Congress”.
Dhiab was cleared for released in 2009, has never been charged or tried, and is currently awaiting release to Uruguay, as one of six prisoners the country’s government has agreed to accept.

In the military commission case of Saudi Abd Al-Nashiri, a request made in August for an MRI brain scan to see if he has organic brain damage was turned down by Judge Spath on the basis that he felt the medical care at Guantánamo is adequate and a proper administrative request had not been made by his lawyers. He did not mention that the requisite medical equipment was not available at the base.
With new briefs filed by both sides in the case, the next oral hearing in the case will be held on 13 November.

Estonia has agreed to resettle one of the 79 prisoners who have been cleared for release but cannot return home. It did not say which prisoner it would accept and in the past has said it would not take Guantánamo prisoners

On 22 October, the appeal case of Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul, currently serving a life sentence at Guantánamo Bay, was heard by a panel of 3 judges at the DC Circuit Court after it was sent back there following a decision overturning two of his convictions, for material support of terrorism and solicitation in July, for consideration on the outstanding issue of conspiracy. In the original appeal hearing, all three convictions were overturned but the US government was granted a rehearing en banc (by all 7 judges at the court). This panel sent back four issues related to conspiracy to the original panel of judges to consider. During the oral hearing, lawyers for Al-Bahlul argued that the military commission procedure was unconstitutional and discriminatory. If the arguments put forward by his lawyers are accepted, and the conspiracy charge overturned, it would also overturn other convictions and end pending trials, unless appealed at the Supreme Court. A decision is expected in the next few months.

The periodic review board has cleared one Saudi prisoner for release and ordered the continuing detention of another Saudi prisoner. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani, who refused to take part in his review in May, is still considered a risk and was associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. A second man, Muhammad Murdi Issa al-Zahrani, was cleared for transfer. Although several prisoners have been cleared for transfer since the process restarted over the past year or so none of those cleared have been transferred anywhere.

In a court case originally brought against the Canadian government in 2004 when he was still held at Guantánamo Bay, for the Canadian government’s complicity in his abuse, a federal judge in Canada has ruled that Omar Khadr can widen the scope of his original case, suing the Canadian government for $20 million and claim that the Canadian government conspired with the US.
The government has asked for the claims in the case, which was reopened by his lawyers last year, to be dismissed but the judges asked for the new claims to be rewritten rather than rejected. He stated “Whether Canada conspired with foreign officials to violate the fundamental rights of a citizen is not a trivial matter” and that whether or not the conspiracy charge could stand was a matter for the trial judge to decide. He awarded costs in the case to Khadr’s lawyers as the Canadian government had “"considerably increased the costs and delay" of the action by opposing the lawsuit amendments, almost all of which he allowed.”
Although banned from speaking to the media, on 28 October, a week after an attack on a Canadian soldier and proposals to push through strict new security laws by the Canadian government in response, Omar Khadr had his first opportunity to address Canadians in his own words in an op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen entitled “Khadr: Misguided security laws take a human toll”. In an intelligent and thoughtful article, Khadr states “I will not give up. I have a fundamental right to redress for what I have experienced. But this isn’t just about me. I want accountability to ensure others will be spared the torment I have been through; and the suffering I continue to endure.

Extraordinary Rendition:
The trial of Abu Anas Al-Libi, who was kidnapped in Libya a year ago and rendered to the US, was due to start in early November. In early October, Al-Libi asked the judge to suppress statements he made between the time he was kidnapped and when he later appeared in the US on that basis that he feels that those statements were coerced. He was not given legal representation, did not know where he was being held and thought he was going to be taken to Guantánamo Bay. As a result, he had signed a form waiving his legal rights, which he has since retracted. He had been told at the time that he would be held and interrogated on the US military ship he was aboard for over four months. Although he does not claim to have been physically tortured, he was under great psychological pressure.
He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy in the bombing of two US embassies in Africa in 1998, which killed over 200 people. The hearing has now been put back until January 2015 to give defence lawyers additional time to prepare, including evidence from the UK. Al-Libi’s co-defendant Khaled al-Fawwaz was extradited from the UK in October 2012. A third defendant in the case, Adel Abdul Bary, also extradited from the UK in 2012, pleaded guilty in September and faces a sentence of 25 years.

Poland has lodged an appeal against a ruling in July made by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which found the country complicit in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme, by hosting a torture facility. Prisoners held there included current Guantánamo prisoners Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Nashiri. The appeal is reported to be based on procedural grounds.

A Russian prisoner held at Bagram since 2009, known only as “Irek Hamidullan”, has been taken to the US where he is to face a terrorism trial on unspecified charges. He is alleged to have been involved in attacks on Americans prior to his capture. This is the first time a prisoner held in Afghanistan is being taken to the US. He is among a group of 13 foreign nationals known to be held by the US at the Parwan facility at Bagram without charge or trial. In 2015, the US must hand over control of prison facilities to the Afghan authorities.

On 30 October, the Court of Appeal ruled that Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife, who were rendered to Libya in 2004 from SE Asia with the assistance of the intelligence services, can sue the UK government. He brought a case against former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who had previously denied any knowledge of his case, and MI6 for complicity in their rendition, which came to light in documents found in a government building in Tripoli following the Arab Spring there in 2011. The High Court had ruled the case could not be heard as it could damage foreign relationships with the US. However, the appeal court judges said a court should hear them. Jack Straw and the government have been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

LGC Activities:
The October “Shut Guantánamo!” demonstration was attended by 7 people. The LGC is grateful to London Catholic Worker for joining us at this demonstration. The November demonstration will be at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch on Thursday 6th November: https://www.facebook.com/events/558851547591991/

Thanks to Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK for allowing Val Brown to hold a stall to raise awareness about the plight of Guantánamo prisoners at the conference “Afghanistan – The Forgotten War: Britain’s Legacy” on Saturday 11th October. Speakers at the conference focused on Britain’s military legacy and ongoing involvement, including the environmental impact of war and weapons, the ongoing lethal use of drones and the impact financially and on British armed forces. A report of the interesting and successful conference can be read here: http://onesmallwindow.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/britains-legacy-the-forgotten-war-in-afghanistan/

On 16 October, Aisha Maniar joined John Rees on the Islam Channel’s “The Report” news programme to talk about the ongoing hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay and the struggle to release videotapes showing prisoners being force-fed.

Many thanks to students from Queen Mary University of London’s Amnesty Society for inviting us on 21 October to take part in a talk on torture alongside a speaker from Amnesty International UK’s current ongoing campaign on the theme. Aisha Maniar spoke to around 50 students about the history of Guantánamo, now almost in its 13th year of operation, as well as the truth and lies surrounding the prisoners, the legality of Guantánamo detention and the use of torture. Short workshops were also held to discuss some of the issues raised.

On 6th November, the LGC will hold a planning meeting for our January anniversary demonstration at 6:30pm in the café in Friend’s House, Euston Road (opposite Euston station). We are currently in the process of planning its action to mark the 13th anniversary of Guantanamo opening in January 2015 and as usual WE need YOUR help to make it happen. We are holding a meeting on 6 November. Please get in touch or join us if you’d like to be involved.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LGC Newsletter – September 2014


NEWS:
Guantánamo Bay:
A US navy nurse who refused to force feed hunger striking prisoners at Guantánamo is continuing to face persecution from the US military. Although the military decided not to court martial him for his actions, thereby not making any details of the hunger strike and the feeding procedure public, as would result from a trial, he faces disciplinary measures, which could include him losing his job and his benefits. The nurse’s humane gesture came to light earlier this year when a hunger-striking prisoner wrote to his lawyer praising the nurse’s action.

On 15 September, pre-trial hearings started in the case of Abdel Hadi Al-Iraqi who faces a life sentence for war crimes; he is alleged to be a senior Al Qaeda commander and to have organised attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004 that killed allied soldiers. He was one of the last prisoners to be brought to Guantánamo in 2007, and had prior to that, after his arrest in 2006, “disappeared” into secret CIA torture prisons.
At the hearing, Al-Iraqi met his military lawyer for the first time. Although his previous lawyer was dismissed, he is still also seeking a civilian lawyer to work on his case, which he is not automatically entitled to, as he is not facing capital charges. At the hearing, the prosecution asked for all details relating to his interrogation to be kept secret. Although the prosecution claims he was not subject to “enhanced interrogation methods”, such as waterboarding, it said it was up to the CIA to say what could be disclosed.

Three prisoners, Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim, Abdurrahman al-Shubati and Fadel Hentif, have applied for an en banc rehearing of a case that was decided by a US federal court of appeal at the beginning of August, ruling that military guards at Guantánamo Bay can carry out intimate physical searches of prisoners, lifting a previous ban. The court had held that the action was not unconstitutional. Counsel for the three prisoners is asking for the case to be heard by all the judges at the same court and questions the interpretation applied by the court.

Lawyers for Canadian former prisoner Omar Khadr headed to the Canadian federal courts in early September to resume a case that was stalled in December last year when the judge said that the lawsuit, first brought suing the Canadian government for involvement in Khadr’s torture in 2004 when he was still held at Guantánamo, had to be rewritten. It was resubmitted and Khadr’s lawyers sought to expand the claims against the Canadian government to include conspiracy by Canada with the US in the abuse of his rights and his torture. Lawyers for the Canadian government said that under Canadian federal law, the US government could not be brought into a civil claim and that this issue could be dealt with under the existing claims. The judge reserved judgment on the case.

While Uruguay waits to receive the 6 Guantánamo prisoners it has said it will take as refugees, the government of Peru has ruled out taking any Guantánamo prisoners, following a US request. http://www.peruviantimes.com/19/peru-says-no-to-guantanamo-prisoners/22916/ The Chilean government has also said that taking Guantánamo prisoners “is not a priority” for the country after weighing up a similar request.

Lawyers for the US government are seeking to keep proceedings secret in a court hearing to be held in early October concerning the force feeding of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. The lawyers claim that it is a matter of national security. The case brought by Syrian hunger striker Abu Wael Dhiab concerns the methods used against the prisoners and the forced feeding against their will to keep them alive. This is illegal, when carried out on a rational prisoner, almost everywhere else in the world. Earlier this year, an emergency injunction to halt his force feeding was soon overturned but the government was asked to disclose tapes showing the force feeding. While lawyers on both sides will be heard at the hearing, US government lawyers are seeking to keep the public and the media out.

Extraordinary Rendition:
The US released 14 Pakistani prisoners from Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Although it handed authority over the prison to the Afghan authorities last year, the US has maintained control over up to 60 foreign nationals, mainly Pakistanis. This is the largest group of prisoners, who have less rights than Guantánamo prisoners, to be released in one go. Over the past year, 39 Pakistanis are known to have been released from Bagram, in most cases only to face further persecution once back in their own country. Two Yemenis and a Kazakh prisoner were also released last month. The actual number of prisoners and the conditions and reasons for their detention are highly guarded secrets by the US military.
With the US officially ending its involvement in the war in Afghanistan at the end of this year, even though it plans to keep 10,000 troops there, the future of the remaining Bagram prisoners remains unknown. Transfer to Guantánamo is unlikely but the US intends to maintain control over them.


LGC Activities:
The September “Shut Guantánamo!” demonstration was attended by 8 people. The October demonstration will be at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch on Thursday 2nd October: https://www.facebook.com/events/1446269325597802/

As part of a government consultation on anti-terrorism laws, one of our activists recently corresponded with David Anderson QC, the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, about Shaker Aamer: http://londonguantanamocampaign.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/david-anderson-qc-shaker-aamer-and-anti.html Their correspondence and Anderson’s referral to sources that suggest practices that would be illegal in this country, such as prolonged detention without trial or charge, speak volumes about the government’s actual attitude to Guantánamo prisoners such as Mr Aamer.
The IRCT in Copenhagen, which coordinates the actions worldwide on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, published its annual report of actions and features our London action on pages 34-35:

Friday, September 19, 2014

David Anderson QC, Shaker Aamer and Anti-Terrorism Laws in the UK

As part of a review of investigatory powers prior to the general election in 2015 announced by Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary, to be carried out by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, a call for submissions was made https://terrorismlegislationreviewer.independent.gov.uk/review-of-communications-data-and-interception-powers/ (open until Friday 3 October 2014).

In response to this call, an LGC activist made an independent submission to draw awareness to the case of British resident Shaker Aamer, still held in Guantánamo Bay, given that David Anderson QC is the independent advisor to government on the highly sensitive issues of counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation. In spite of his legal credentials, his response was a referral to reports that support the idea that it might not be unfair to condemn someone without evidence and abuse and imprison them without charge or trial, based simply upon unfounded suspicion and prejudice. Such views put forward by a senior legal figure appointed by the British government undermines the government's claims that it is committed to the rule of law and Mr Aamer's quest for freedom after having been held for almost 13 years without charge or trial and the least due process.



"26 August, 2014.

Dear David Anderson
Evidence for Investigating Powers Review

You have rightly commented that counter-terrorism is an important task that cannot be accomplished through legislation alone. The cooperation of individuals and communities is a vital element in countering “radical” ideas and indoctrination. It is important that those responsible for setting agendas for social responsibility, for civilising values, for cooperative and tolerant attitudes and behaviour, for acceptance and tolerance of difference, and for the setting of examples and inspiring virtuous and humane aspirations, as well as their various audiences, should feel valued, comfortable, and at ease with UK society and government.


I wish to draw your attention to the situation of Shaker Aamer, his family and supporters and many who have been actively campaigning, with no visible result, for over seven years. Shaker and his family decided that the Islamic commitment to supporting charity through contributions to the Friday collections was inadequate. Accordingly the entire family relocated to Afghanistan to do charitable work. After 9/11 the American ‘cavalry’ charged in with a mission to exact brutal retribution on anyone they determined, without evidence, could possibly have been implicated in the establishment of an Afghanistan-based terror machine. His wife and family escaped via Pakistan and have awaited, in Battersea, the return of their much loved father and husband since 2001. Shaker has been appallingly treated. He was cleared by six security agencies as being of no value as a Guantanamo prisoner in 2007. (This is security apparatus speak for: he is innocent, should never have been detained, has no evidence of any wrong-doing or malicious intent against his name, has no intelligence value and should be released immediately as his continuing imprisonment is a further gross injustice, compounding all previous injustices, and a cost and burden on the government of the United States.) For lack of any evidence or hint of wrong-doing he has never been charged or tried and there are no proposals to do so.


David Cameron. William Hague and Nick Clegg have all pledged to engage with US authorities to secure his release and return but since there are no results their pledges ring decidedly hollow. Jane Ellison MP for Battersea was comparatively active till promoted to a ministerial post. This government instituted an epetition scheme to enable issues of concern to electors to be properly aired. Over 117,000 signatures were collected for Shaker Aamer. I am certain that many times the number could have been were organisation better coordinated, and certainly there are many thousands who know and understand the story – and feel aggrieved at the treatment of an innocent charity worker simply because he was a Muslim charity worker in Afghanistan. The promised Parliamentary debate has not even been scheduled and there is no evidence that action is even in prospect. Records show that Britain was covertly complicit in Shaker’s treatment and suspicion naturally gravitates towards an explanation for delay implying that government embarrassment is the cause of Shaker’s continuing imprisonment. When I talk to Muslims particularly they are often inclined to express frustration over injustice, bigotry and prejudice. Nor are feelings of scepticism, betrayal and injustice confined to Muslims. Government inaction cannot be viewed in a positive light by anyone and procrastination and delays simply confirm in the minds of those, inclined to suspicion of government motives and intentions, that justice and treatment of Muslims is of a secondary order to the rest of UK society; and injustices are the result of government prejudice against Islam generally. I don’t believe this is at all helpful to community relations. I have repeatedly attempted to draw government’s attention to this issue without result. I have written to the Intelligence and Security Committee and to COBRA but my concerns were brushed off. Your predecessor, Lord Carlisle seemed also to be distinctly underwhelmed.


If what you said about perceptions and community relations was meant I would urge that you urgently make representations to anyone who will actually listen and get those in positions of responsibility and influence to take some effective action to bring Shaker back and reunite a family whose only motive for travelling to Afghanistan was to do something effective to make life better for others. For those in authority and power, who repeatedly like to point fingers of responsibility elsewhere, I can only say that the perception is that they are responsible for inaction and continued injustice, whatever I or anyone else says. It is not easy to accept a proposition that the UK government is powerless to effect the release and return of an innocent husband and father to his family in Battersea when the USA authorities themselves have cleared him for release in 2007, and again since, and have determined that there is no evidence of any wrong-doing whatsoever against him. Government correspondence is diverted through a Whitehall department called the Counter Terrorism Office which it is understood is staffed by former MI5 and MI6 officers whom it is widely believed have disincentives for actioning the release of Guantanamo prisoners; innocent or no. For their own sakes, for those with power and influence,  and for everyone else’s sake therefore it would be best to bite the bullet and resolve the issue now before further time and distrust are able to continue to corrode community relations. This must make good sense for you and colleagues who are attempting to resolve potential problems of “radicalisation”.  


I do look forward with great interest to your response and, judging by your own very sensible observations, sincerely hope that you will use your good offices to draw attention to the widespread perceptions of hypocrisy in this matter, urging that speedy and urgent action be taken now. I look forward to your response with hope and anticipation."

----------------------
He received the following response on 8 September 2014:

Thank you for your thoughtful and courteous letter of 26 August.
 
What you say about Shaker Aamer is of great interest, though some of it is not uncontroversial (for another perspective, see this article from 2012: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204468004577164904145708474).
 
Though I consider Guantanamo to be a serious blot on the record of the United States in the “war against terror”, I regret that I am in no position to take a view on contested facts in the case of Shaker Aamer, still less to add my voice to the campaign for his release.  My statutory functions begin and end with the review of certain specific UK counter-terrorism legislation.  Though as you point out in the title of your letter I shall also be conducting an Investigatory Powers Review over the next few months, it does not appear that the issues you raise fall within the scope of that review either.
 
I am sorry not to have more encouraging news.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
David Anderson


Sunday, August 31, 2014

LGC Newsletter – August 2014



NEWS:
British residents:
According to human rights NGO Reprieve, which represents him, Shaker Aamer has reportedly been beaten at Guantánamo Bay, as part of a new crackdown on prisoners protesting their detention without charge. The claim comes in letters it received from another detained client Emad Hassan telling of a new “standard procedure” called Forcible Cell Extraction [FCE] where a team is brought in to beat prisoners. According to Reprieve, “‘Forcible Cell Extraction’ or ‘FCEing’ is the process by which a detainee is forced out of his cell by a group of armed guards, often before being taken to the force-feeding chair. Mr Aamer has previously described being beaten by the FCE team up to eight times a day”. Other prisoners have been beaten too.


Guantánamo Bay:
A US court of appeal ruled that it is okay for military guards at Guantánamo Bay to carry out intimate physical searches of prisoners, which have been used to prevent them from seeing their lawyers. Intimate searches of the prisoners’ genital area and body cavities before being allowed to meet their lawyers have been used to intimidate and humiliate prisoners. The practice started at the height of the ongoing hunger strike in May 2013, with the death of Yemeni prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, allegedly from a drug overdose in September 2012, being given as a pretext. Overturning a decision that prevented such searches, Judge Thomas B. Griffith said, “Although we must not give prison administrators a free hand to disregard fundamental rights, this case is a far cry from instances where administrators have acknowledged their intent to extinguish prisoner rights and acted accordingly. The tenuous evidence of an improper motive to obstruct access to counsel in this case cannot overcome the legitimate, rational connection between the security needs of Guantánamo Bay and thorough searches of detainees. Similar searches are carried out on prisoners held in US “supermax” maximum security prisons.  

The pre-trial hearing in the military tribunal of Abd Al-Nashiri accused of involvement in bombings of US and European interests in the Gulf of Aden in the early 2000s resumed on 4 August. His lawyers asked that the jury should know what method would be used to execute him if convicted. The prosecution retorted that the execution method is not a concern for the jury and is not usually discussed until the trial has started. The actual trial is due to start in February 2015, however given the various interruptions and stalling of this kangaroo court procedure, it is likely to start later.
This is the first time that the new judge in this case Air Force Colonel Vance Spath has overseen the pre-trial hearings. Al-Nashiri’s defence lawyer Richard Kammen asked for Spath to stand down due to his possible bias or lack or neutrality as a member of the defence team worked on a separate death penalty sentence Spath oversaw in 2005, however Spath denied this motion and remains as the judge.
On 11 August, Spath threw out collateral charges related to a 2002 Al Qaeda attack on a French oil tanker, the Limburg. This was on the basis that the prosecution did not produce any evidence about the bombing. The importance of this charge related to earlier issues concerning whether Guantánamo military commissions have the jurisdiction to consider alleged crimes that took place before 11 September 2001. Commenting on the decision, Al-Nashiri’s lawyer Richard Kammen said “the decision demonstrated the need to try the case in federal court.
Pre-trial hearings in the other Guantánamo military commission of five prisoners alleged to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 recommenced on 11 August.http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/08/11/usa-guantanamo-idINKBN0GB1WC20140811
A motion was brought at the court on whether to sever one of the defendants Ramzi bin Al-Shibh from the case, to allow him to face a separate trial as certain issues only affect his case, he is not facing all of the same charges and severing the case into two would allow the other four defendants to make progress in their case. Although the prosecution wanted to keep the cases joined, the judge and Al-Shibh agreed to the motion.
Khalid Sheikh Mohamed’s military lawyer Major Jason Wright is no longer representing him, and has resigned both from the case and the US army. Having taken on the case in 2011, he was asked in February to take a 9-month graduate military law course, during which he would be absent from the case. He asked for a deferral but when this was refused with the ultimatum that he either take the course and leave the case or leave the army, he chose the latter course.
 
Last month, Kuwaiti prisoner Fawzi Al-Odah was cleared for release following a periodic status review after 12 years of detention without charge or trial. Nonetheless, on 3 August, the US District Court for the District of Columbia accepted a US government motion to dismiss a habeas corpus case he filed in September 2013 calling for him to be released by the end of 2014 with the then stated end of hostilities and US withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of this year, as this is the alleged reason for his detention. Without hostility in Afghanistan, there would be no basis for his detention. The judge dismissed the case as the court lacked jurisdiction and as the claim is based on future events that may not happen. His claim that his ongoing detention was punitive and not preventative was also dismissed.


British company G4S has been given a $118 million (£70 million) contract to provide “base support operating services” at Guantánamo Bay. The controversial outsourcing company currently “faces an ongoing investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over its involvement in last year's scandal over the tagging of criminals, in which it and rival firm Serco admitted charging taxpayers for electronically tagging individuals who were either in prison or dead.” It has also been implicated in Palestinian prisoner abuse in Israel.
Reprieve has made a complaint to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as by working there, the company may contribute to ongoing human rights abuses. “A bulletin issued by the US Department of Defence stated that G4S's responsibilities would cover "support vehicles and equipment" and "operating services" at the base, such as housing and facilities for soldiers and their families.”

The hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay, ongoing now for more than 18 months, has cost over $300,000 just on providing the liquid nutritional supplements the prisoners are often force fed. Over a dozen prisoners are reported to still be refusing food and are almost all force fed by nasal tube.
A military nurse who refused to force feed hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo has been moved from the prison facility and could face court-martial for his action. Such a move could backfire as it would raise public awareness about the hunger strike and the methods used to repress it.

Extraordinary Rendition:
“We tortured some folks” was a flippant response given by President Barack Obama at a press briefing on 1st August. While an admission that “In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values”, the statement, relating to the as-yet unpublished Senate torture report shows the US is unrepentant over its commission of crimes against humanity and that for the CIA, the use of torture is a fairly standard procedure. In spite of ongoing controversy and debate, no date has yet been given for when the heavily-redacted report is likely to be released.

One item that has already emerged from the unpublished Senate torture report is further details on the use of the island of Diego Garcia by the US military for torture flights and to run a torture facility in the British-administered Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It has emerged that the UK discussed a US request to house a Guantánamo-style prison with place for up to 500 detainees there. The request was rejected and the government is under growing pressure to come clean on what it knew about US use of the facility.

The US has released a number of prisoners held indefinitely at Bagram, among them two Yemenis, one of whom is suffering from leukaemia: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-releases-two-yemenis-from-military-prison-in-afghanistan/2014/08/27/ce5af03a-2df2-11e4-bb9b-997ae96fad33_story.html
Nine Pakistani prisoners were also released. However, in spite of having been held without charge or trial for years, once released over the border, they were arrested in Rawalpindi and remain held incommunicado by the Pakistani security services. Lawyers have demanded to know their whereabouts. The Afghan president Hamid Karzai also expressed concerns about the release of the untried Pakistanis, questioning whether they still pose a risk to his country. They apparently did not a risk in the first place, having never been charged or tried, and detained and released without due process.

LGC Activities:
The August “Shut Guantánamo!” demonstration was attended by 7 people. The September demonstration will be at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch on Thursday 4th September: https://www.facebook.com/events/543611135738466/