Irish elderly peace activist jailed for opposing torture flights


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Free Margaretta D’Arcy protest at Leinster House

22 Jan. 2014

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance holds a protest calling for the release of jailed peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy (79).

This video from the USA is called Globalizing Torture: Ahead of Brennan Hearing, International Complicity in CIA Rendition Exposed.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Irish rally behind jailed peace activist Margaretta d’Arcy

Thursday 20th Febuary 2014

Irish politicians renewed their fight to free elderly peace campaigner Margaretta D’Arcy from prison.

The 79-year-old, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has cancer, was jailed in January for three months after blocking flights from Shannon airport.

Shannon was allegedly used as a stop-off point in the US extraordinary rendition programme.

Her arrest caused an uproar and serious concerns have been raised about her health.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams visited her last week and said he’d achieved assurances from Justice Minister Alan Shatter that Ms D’Arcy has “access to the full range of services in prison, including all medical services.”

Mr Adams said: “Nonetheless she is a frail and elderly woman with a serious medical condition who should not be in prison.

“Margaretta is taking a stand for Irish neutrality and for human rights and against the use of a civilian airport for military purposes, and the secret rendition of detainees to places of torture.”

Mr Adams said that both the Irish human rights commission and the UN committee against torture had condemned the government for its complicity in rendition, where terror suspects are illegally smuggled across international borders.

“Margaretta is not a criminal. She represents no threat to the public and it is outrageous that she should be still in prison. Margaretta D’Arcy should be released immediately,” he said.

Regular protests have been held calling for Ms D’Arcy’s release.

At a vigil on Wednesday outside Leinster House – the home of the Irish parliament – Unite union regional secretary Jimmy Kelly hit out at the charge on interfering with the “proper” use of Shannon airport.

“During the past decade, over two million US soldiers have passed through Shannon Airport, most on their way to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“That is not proper use of a civilian airport in a neutral state.

“During an eight-month period last year, over 350 foreign military aircraft were allowed to land at Shannon.

“That is not proper use of a civilian airport in a neutral state.”

This video is about a speech by Clare Daly, member of the Dáil in Ireland, against the incarceration of 79 year old peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy.

An 84-year-old nun was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for her part in a protest break-in at a US nuclear material storage facility. Megan Rice was convicted of sabotage earlier this year along with two other peace activists for their 2012 protest at the Oak Ridge site, which holds weapons-grade uranium: here.

84-year-old nun sentenced to prison for “sabotaging” US preparations for war: here.

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British complicity in torture cover-up attempt


This video is called Britain’s MI6 linked to Libya torture scandal.

It says about itself:

7 dec 2013

An Al Jazeera investigation has traced how intelligence extracted by torture in a Libyan jail cell may have been used in the British legal system. A leading Libyan politician says that he was forced to name dissidents, who were then detained by the authorities in London. Al Jazeera’s Juliana Ruhfus has this exclusive report.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Anger as Ken Clarke tries to palm off torture probe

Thursday 19th December 2013

Human rights campaigners accuse government of backtrack on its pledge to investigate British complicity in torture

Human rights campaigners reacted with anger yesterday to reports that the government is trying to backtrack on its pledge to investigate British complicity in torture.

In July 2010, David Cameron announced that an independent, judge-led inquiry would be established to examine the grave allegations amid mounting evidence.

However it has been reported that Cabinet Office Minister Ken Clarke will announce today that the task is to be handed over to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a body made up of MPs and peers appointed by the Prime Minister.

Despite being tasked with oversight of the intelligence services, the ISC has been heavily criticised for failing to spot a number of recent scandals and controversies.

Legal action charity Reprieve points out that in 2007, three years after the MI6-orchestrated “rendition” of Libyan dissidents Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al-Saadi, along with their families, the ISC produced a report which claimed there was “no evidence that the UK agencies were complicit in any ‘extraordinary rendition‘ operations.”

The charity also cited the “pantomime” of the committee’s toothless questioning of the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ in the wake of the recent US NSA surveillance scandal.

While hailed by the government as a major step forward for security service transparency there was little in the way of probing questioning and it subsequently emerged that the spy chiefs had been provided with the questions in advance.

None of the ISC members are judges, although it includes a former defence secretary, a former Home Office minister, and a former cabinet secretary under Tony Blair.

Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said: “If the government takes this course, it will be breaking its promise to hold a genuine, independent inquiry into UK involvement in torture.

“Worse still, it will be handing the task to a committee of MPs hand-picked by the Prime Minister, which has consistently missed major scandals involving the security services.

“The ISC not only lacks independence, it has also sadly been proven to be completely hopeless as a watchdog.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ken Clarke have all personally pledged to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry into torture. They must not abandon their promise in favour of a whitewash.”

United States torture flights and Britain


From daily The Guardian in Britain:

New light shed on US government’s extraordinary rendition programme

Online project uncovers details of way in which CIA carried out kidnaps and secret detentions following September 11 attacks

• The Rendition Project interactive
• CIA rendition flights explained

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Abu Faraj al-Libi, one of the detainees there, was allegedly seized in Pakistan in 2005, flown to Afghanistan, switched to another aircraft and taken to the US base via Romania. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty

A groundbreaking research project has mapped the US government’s global kidnap and secret detention programme, shedding unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years.

The interactive online project – by two British universities and a legal charity – has uncovered new details of the way in which the so-called extraordinary rendition programme operated for years in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to avoid detection in the face of growing public concern.

The Rendition Project website is intended to serve as a research tool that not only collates all the publicly available data about the programme, but can continue to be updated as further information comes to light.

Data already collated shows the full extent of the UK’s logistical support for the programme: aircraft associated with rendition operations landed at British airports more than 1,600 times.

Although no detainees are known to have been aboard the aircraft while they were landing in the UK, the CIA was able to refuel during operations that involved some of the most notorious renditions of the post-September 11 years, including one in which two men were kidnapped in Sweden and flown to Egypt, where they suffered years of torture, and others that involved detainees being flown to and from a secret prison in Romania.

The database also tracks rendition flights into and out of Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands, and suggests that flight crews enjoyed rest-and-recreation stopovers on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Both are British overseas territories.

The Rendition Project is the result of three years of work, funded by the UK taxpayer through the Economic and Social Research Council, by Ruth Blakeley, a senior lecturer at the University of Kent, and Sam Raphael, a senior lecturer at Kingston University, working with Crofton Black, an investigator with the legal charity Reprieve.

“By bringing together a vast collection of documents and data, the Rendition Project publishes the most detailed picture to date of the scale, operation and evolution of the global system of rendition and secret detention in the so-called war on terror,” said Blakeley.

Raphael said: “The database makes a major contribution to efforts to track CIA rendition flights, and provides the clearest picture so far of what was going on. It also serves as an important tool for investigators, journalists and lawyers to delve into in more detail.”

Black added: “The Rendition Project lays bare the inner workings of the logistics network underlying the US government’s secret prison programme. It’s the most accurate and comprehensive resource so far published.”

The data includes details on 11,006 flights by aeroplanes linked to the CIA’s rendition programme since 2002. Of those, 1,556 flights are classed as confirmed or suspected rendition flights, or flagged as “suspicious”, depending on the strength of the supporting evidence surrounding each.

The researchers have also confirmed 20 “dummy” flights within the data: flight paths logged with air traffic controllers, but never taken. Instead, the planes took a different route to different airports along the way, to pick up or drop off a detainee. About a dozen more flight paths are marked as possible dummy flights.

The website also weaves together first-hand testimony of detainees of their mistreatment within the secret prisons; the layout and conditions of the facilities; the movements of detainees across the globe; and documents that detail outsourcing to corporations that offered logistical support, from flights to catering and hotel reservations. In some cases, it is unclear whether the airline companies would have been aware of the purpose of the flights.

The project also brings to light new information on the methods used to avoid detection of rendition flights, particularly as journalists became aware of the programme. The project highlights “tarmac transfers” – occasions on which two planes involved in rendition met on remote airfields. The researchers believe these occasions were used to transfer detainees from one plane to another, making their rendition route far more difficult to track.

Among the prisoners who appear to have been switched from one aircraft to another in this way is Abu Faraj al-Libi, who is currently being held at the Guantánamo detention camp in Cuba. After being captured in Pakistan in May 2005, he appears to have been flown to Afghanistan, where he was switched to another aircraft and taken to Bucharest.

Poland CIA torture scandal continues


This video says about itself:

Secret prisons in Europe, finds EU special committee

Apr 12, 2012

http://www.euronews.com/ Secret detention centres and an organised system supporting the CIA’s rendition programme were in place in several EU countries, according to the findings of European Parliament special committee.

A report investigating allegations of human rights violations claims arrangements existed in Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Denmark, Finland and Britain.

The European Parliament organised hearings with NGO’s and human rights institutions to gather additional data about the alleged complicity of some EU member-states’ governments in the CIA’s rendition programme.

“Nothing has been done in member states to truly investigate and get to the bottom of the problem. There is an obligation not only not to torture or to be an accomplice in torture. But there is an obligation to investigate, to ensure accountability,” said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture.

Many of the inquiries conducted in recent years by member states have been classified.

Those findings were not made available for the follow up report that the European parliament is preparing. The report’s author says a joined up approach is imperative.

Acknowledging the failures or difficulties members states have had in tackling the problem, the European Union should take this issue into its own hands so that finally, the information can become freely accessible,” said Hélène Flautre, MEP and rapporteur for Civil Liberties Committee.

From Inter Press Service news agency:

Poland Cornered Over Its Secret Prisons

Friday, March 8, 2013 – 09:21

WARSAW, Mar 08 (IPS) – A Polish official investigation into the existence of a secret CIA prison on its territory is being stalled, according to official sources, while pressure on the country to tell the truth mounts.

Various public sources, from Dick Marty’s 2007 Council of Europe report to the recent Globalising Torture study of Open Society Foundations, claim Poland hosted a secret CIA prison used in the extraordinary rendition programme from the end of 2002. Under this programme, the U.S. detained and interrogated terrorism suspects in Europe.

Evidence comes from official sources. The 2004 CIA Inspector General report, which discusses CIA’s treatment of prisoners thought to be linked to Al-Qaeda in the period 2001-2003, details the case of Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, alleged leader of Al-Qaeda in the Persian Gulf and suspected of organising the bombing of warship USS Cole. Seventeen US servicemen were killed in the attack on the ship in the Yemeni port Aden in October 2000.

According to the report, by November 2002 Al-Nashiri had been detained by the CIA and enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) were applied on him “through to 4 December 2002.” A heavily redacted further section reads, “two waterboard sessions in November 2002 after which (…) Al-Nashiri was compliant. However, after being moved (…) Al-Nashiri was thought to be withholding information.”

These fragments show Al-Nashiri was moved immediately after Dec. 4 to a new location, where EIT were applied on him again.

Poland seems to be this new location. Documents disclosed by the Polish Border Guards to the Polish Helsinki Foundation show that flight N63MU landed at Polish Szymany airport on Dec. 5, 2002, coming from Thailand (where CIA prisoners were thought to have been taken at first) via Dubai with eight passengers and four crew members; it left Poland with only the four crew.

No other flights – but N63MU to Poland – on which Al-Nashiri could have been moved have been discovered: “We have comprehensive data for 200-300 planes suspected or known to have done renditions – all U.S. registered private jets,” Crofton Black, investigator at UK NGO Reprieve, told IPS. “Having surveyed all these planes, it does appear there is no other relevant movement from Thailand on or around Dec. 5.” Black, however, adds that relevant flights might still be discovered.

In addition to such evidence (which can be brought for other terrorism suspects too), officials from governments and intelligence services of various countries, including Poland and the U.S., interviewed by UN and EU bodies, NGOs and journalists, point to the fact that the Polish site was key to the CIA scheme.

Those sources continue to speak under the condition of anonymity because both Poland and the U.S. refuse to officially reveal details about how rendition functioned.

In Poland, a prosecutors’ investigation started in 2008 has recently taken a dubious turn.

Until a year ago, the investigation was conducted by the Warsaw prosecutors’ office, under two successive prosecutors. In 2011, Poland’s main daily Gazeta Wyrbocza reported that the first prosecutor reached the point of asking legal experts about the implications of Poland hosting a site where foreign agents tortured prisoners.

In 2012, Polish media reported that the second prosecutor assigned to the case told Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, Poland’s head of intelligence services between 2002 and 2004, that charges would be brought against him for violating international law by allowing the unlawful detention of prisoners in Poland. Siemiatkowski confirmed the charges.

After this news came out, the case was moved to Krakow.

Mikolaj Pietrzak, the Polish lawyer for Al-Nashiri, has won the right to be updated on the investigation since his client was granted victim status by Polish authorities in 2010. Pietrzak told IPS that he had enjoyed good cooperation with the Warsaw prosecutors, having even been granted access to the entire file (including to classified information) by the second investigator. Since the case moved to Krakow, he has seen solely non-classified information and only after significant pressure from his side.

“It is extremely irregular that a case be shifted to three different prosecutors,” Pietrzak said. “And the fact that in the last year nothing has gone forward apparently is a very sad statement about the investigation.”

Piotr Kosmaty, a Krakow prosecutors’ office spokesperson, confirmed to IPS that the case which was supposed to be finalised this February has received a set extension, but the new timeline is not public.

According to Adam Bodnar, head of the legal division at Helsinki Foundation, “all the steps to prolong the investigation are meant to avoid making a formal and conclusive decision in this case.”

“This is a hot potato situation for Polish prosecutors and politicians,” Bodnar told IPS. “They cannot just redeem Poland, that would cause an outcry, but pressing charges against Siemiatkowski or Leszek Miller (former prime minister of Poland between 2001 and 2004) is also impossible in the current political configuration. So they try to prolong it as much as possible.”

Yet sweeping this case under the rug might be impossible for Poland.

Al-Nashiri opened a case against Poland at the European Court of Human Rights, and lawyers for Abu Zubaydah, the first “high value detainee” in the CIA programme who was also allegedly brought to Poland on the same N63MU flight, are preparing a similar case.

According to Pietrzak and Bodnar, even if Poland does not disclose any information to the ECHR (it has refused to do so until now), there is enough evidence to prove the country violated the Geneva Conventions, for not having offered protection to these individuals on its soil and for allowing them to be transferred to the U.S., where they are vulnerable to the death penalty.

Pietrzak, who has at one point seen the full file of the Polish investigation, claims: “This case is going to be very difficult to overturn, becase there is a lot of evidence, and you simply cannot pretend that what is there in the prosecutors’ file doesn’t exist.”

The lawyer says that in case the Polish investigation is closed with no result, as a representative of a victim he has the procedural right to appeal in front of a Polish court. In that case, he can bring all the confidential information he has seen as evidence.

Fifty governments in global torture


This video from the USA says about itself:

Sep 29, 2006

Based on incorrect information, Canadian ‘renditions’ victim Mahar Arar was kidnapped by U.S. authorities and sent to Syria to be tortured. Arar explains why he told the torturers the lies they wanted to hear.

By Joshua Hersh in the USA:

Extraordinary Rendition Report Finds More Than 50 Nations Involved In Global Torture Scheme

Posted: 02/04/2013 11:14 pm EST  |  Updated: 02/05/2013 11:24 am EST

WASHINGTON — The U.S. counterterrorism practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which suspects were quietly moved to secret prisons abroad and often tortured, involved the participation of more than 50 nations, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Open Society Foundations.

The OSF report, which offers the first wholesale public accounting of the top-secret program, puts the number of governments that either hosted CIA “black sites,” interrogated or tortured prisoners sent by the U.S., or otherwise collaborated in the program at 54. The report also identifies by name 136 prisoners who were at some point subjected to extraordinary rendition.

The number of nations and the names of those detained provide a stark tally of a program that was expanded widely — critics say recklessly — by the George W. Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has been heavily condemned in the years since. In December, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, condemned the CIA’s detention and interrogation efforts as “terrible mistakes.”

Although Bush administration officials said they never intentionally sent terrorism suspects abroad in order to be tortured, the countries where the prisoners seemed to end up — Egypt, Libya and Syria, among others — were known to utilize coercive interrogation techniques.

Extraordinary rendition was also a factor in one of the greatest intelligence blunders of the Bush years. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan national and top al Qaeda operative who was detained in Pakistan in late 2001, was later sent by the U.S. to Egypt. There, under the threat of torture, he alleged that Saddam Hussein had trained al Qaeda in biological and chemical warfare. He later withdrew the claim, but not before the U.S. invaded Iraq in part based on his faulty testimony.

When he came into office, President Barack Obama pledged to end the U.S. government’s use of torture and issued an executive order closing the CIA’s secret prisons around the world.

But Obama did not fully end the practice of rendition, which permits the U.S. to circumvent any due process obligations for terrorism suspects. Instead, the administration said it was relying on the less certain “diplomatic assurances” of host countries that they would not torture suspects sent to them for pretrial detention.

This decision, the OSF report concludes, was tantamount to continuing the program, since in the absence of any public accounting, it was impossible to measure the accuracy of those “assurances.”

Without any public government records to read, Amrit Singh, the OSF’s top legal analyst for national security and counterterrorism and the new report’s author, turned to news reports, the investigations of a global network of human rights organizations, and the proceedings of a handful of foreign courts that have investigated their own countries’ practices.

What Singh saw was a hasty global effort, spearheaded by the United States in the months after 9/11, to bypass longstanding legal structures in order to confront the emerging threat of international terrorism.

Singh condemned the consequences of that effort in the report’s introduction. “By enlisting the participation of dozens of foreign governments in these violations, the United States further undermined longstanding human rights protections enshrined in international law — including, in particular, the norm against torture,” she wrote.

“Responsibility for this damage does not lie solely with the United States,” Singh added, “but also with the numerous foreign governments without whose participation secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations could not have been carried out.”

The list of those nations includes a range of American allies (Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany) and familiar Middle Eastern partners in the messy fight against radical Islam (Jordan, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates). Their alleged levels of participation vary widely, from countries like Poland, which agreed to host CIA black-site prisons, to nations like Portugal and Finland, which merely allowed their airspace and airports to be used for rendition flights.

A few of the nations involved, such as Australia and Sweden, have begun a process of public accounting and compensation for their roles in the process. Others, including Italy and Macedonia, have recently become embroiled in trials of local officials and CIA agents in absentia over their actions.

This story has been updated with links to the Open Society Foundations report, released Tuesday.

See also here.

Compensation for Tony Blair torture victim


This video is called Tony Blair meets Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Torture victim given £2.2m

Thursday 13 December 2012

A Libyan dissident forcibly returned to Tripoli in 2004 to face imprisonment and torture has accepted over £2 million in compensation in a settlement with the British government over its role in his illegal rendition.

Ministers have agreed to pay £2.23m compensation to the family of Sami al-Saadi but have not admitted liability.

Mr Saadi was forced aboard a plane in Hong Kong along with his wife and four young children in a joint British-US-Libyan operation.

In Tripoli he was imprisoned and tortured by the Gadaffi regime.

Evidence of Britain’s involvement emerged after the regime fell last year.

CIA correspondence with Libyan intelligence, discovered by Human Rights Watch in Tripoli, states: “we are … aware that your service had been co-operating with the British to effect [Mr Saadi's] removal to Tripoli … the Hong Kong government may be able to co-ordinate with you to render [Mr Saadi] and his family into your custody.”

The operation followed Tony Blair‘s “Deal in the Desert” with late dictator Muammar Gadaffi, which saw Britain agree to help track down and hand over his opponents.

Mr Saadi said: “My family suffered enough when they were kidnapped and flown to Gadaffi’s Libya.

“They will now have the chance to complete their education in the new, free Libya. I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison.

“I started this process believing that a British trial would get to the truth in my case. But today, with the government trying to push through secret courts, I feel that to proceed is not best for my family.

“I went through a secret trial once before, in Gadaffi’s Libya. In many ways, it was as bad as the torture. It is not an experience I care to repeat.”

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “We now know that Tony Blair’s ‘Deal in the Desert’ was bought with ugly compromises.

“Perhaps the ugliest was for MI6 to deliver a whole family to one of the world’s most brutal dictators. There needs to be a full and fair inquiry into these issues, and it ought to get started right away.”

A second Libyan, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, who also suffered rendition and torture, will continue to pursue legal action against the British government.

British Supreme Court accuses government of war crime


This video is called Extraordinary Rendition [Documentary about War on Terror and Guantanamo Bay / Binyam Mohamed].

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 2 November 2012

UK RENDITION OF PAKISTANI ‘A POSSIBLE WAR CRIME’

The rendition of a Pakistani man by UK and US forces to Afghanistan, and his subsequent detention, has been described by Britain’s highest court as ‘unlawful’ and a possible war crime.

Yunus Rahmatullah, 29, was detained by British forces in Iraq in 2004, and rendered by the US to Bagram prison, Afghanistan, where he remains held without charge or trial to this day.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously dismissed the British government’s appeal to overturn the writ of habeas corpus issued in his case.

The court criticised the UK government for failing, on no less than three occasions, to request Mr Rahmatullah’s return.

It suggested that these failings may amount to a war crime, stating: ‘The, presumably forcible, transfer of Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to Afghanistan is, at least prima facie, a breach of article 49 (of the Fourth Geneva Convention).

‘On that account alone, his continued detention post-transfer is unlawful.’

The UK government entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US, which said the UK could seek his return if required, to justify his rendition.

The MoU invoked and reinforced the Geneva Conventions which the US has consistently breached when detaining prisoners of the War on Terror.

The Supreme Court therefore held that the British government should have demanded Mr Rahmatullah’s return when they found out he had been unlawfully transferred to Afghanistan, again when the Americans themselves had decided he no longer needed to be detained, and finally again when the war in Iraq ended.

The UK government have sought to argue that, despite the MoU with the US, any attempts to secure Mr Rahmatullah’s release would have been futile.

But the Court said that this argument was ‘unsupported by factual analysis’ and that ‘no evidence was proffered to sustain it’.

The Court identified this as the first time in 150 years when the US (‘a mature democracy’) has ‘dishonoured’ an extradition agreement (para. 14).

The writ of habeas corpus required the UK, as the ‘detaining authority’, to seek Mr Rahmatullah’s release from the United States authorities.

However, the United States failed to act on the writ and it was subsequently discharged.

Efforts to get the writ reinstated were lost in a majority decision in Wednesday’s judgment.

In December 2011, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Divisional Court and agreed that the historic writ of habeas corpus should and can be issued in the case of Mr Rahmatullah.

British forces seized him in February 2004 during an operation against insurgents in Iraq.

The soldiers handed him over to their US counterparts under the Memorandum of Understanding covering how prisoners would be managed.

He was subsequently illegally rendered to Afghanistan.

Mr Rahmatullah was the subject of an embarrassing climbdown in 2009 by the then Defence Secretary John Hutton who had to admit that the government had previously misled the house when it said that it had not been involved in the US practice of Rendition.

In June 2010, a detention review board authorised his release, saying he posed ‘no enduring security threat’ – but he remains in detention.

Although in US custody, the UK is the ‘detaining authority’ pursuant to the 2003 Memorandum of Understanding struck between the UK and US during the invasion of Iraq and remains responsible for Mr Rahmatullah under the Geneva Conventions.

The ancient writ of habeas corpus is a right under English law that dates back to the Magna Carta.

It may be issued on behalf of any prisoner unlawfully detained so as to bring him (originally, his actual person; now more often just the facts of the case) before the High Court, and his release ordered.

Giving the lead judgment in the Supreme Court, Lord Kerr dismissed the government’s arguments that the 2003 MoU was no longer in force.

He also highlighted the contrary position taken by the government in seeking to down-play the import of the MoU in this case when in other cases it had sought to persuade to the Court to attach great weight to these inter-governmental agreements – notably in extradition cases where it has repeatedly relied upon MoUs to send individuals to countries that routinely use torture.

The Justices also debunked the government’s argument that Mr Rahmatullah was not being detained unlawfully.

‘There can be no plausible argument, therefore, against the proposition that there is clear prima facie evidence that Mr Rahmatullah is unlawfully detained and that the UK government was under an obligation to seek his return unless it could bring about effective measures to correct the breaches of the (Geneva Convention) that his continued detention constituted.’

Importantly, the Supreme Court also dismissed the government’s arguments that the Courts should not have issued the writ because it infringed on the ‘forbidden territory’ of foreign and diplomatic affairs.

In doing so, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional right of the individual to challenge the lawfulness of their detention through the writ of habeas corpus.

As Lady Hale and Lord Carnwath put it: ‘Where liberty is at stake, it is not the Court’s job to speculate as to the political sensitivities which may be in play.’

Reprieve’s Legal Director Kat Craig said: ‘The UK government has nowhere left to turn.

‘The highest court in the country has expressed serious concerns that grave war crimes may have been committed, as a result of which a police investigation must be initiated without delay.

‘The Court has also found that Yunus Rahmatullah’s detention is unlawful.

‘Mr Ramatullah, who has been imprisoned for over eight years despite being cleared for release by the US itself on the basis that he poses no threat, must now be released immediately.’

Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith said: ‘This powerful Supreme Court decision has huge ramifications. Clearly there will now have to be a full criminal investigation.

‘But if the US has “dishonoured” its commitment to the UK in this case for the first time in 150 years, and continues to violate law as basic as the Geneva Conventions, this also throws other extradition agreements with the UK into doubt.’

Jamie Beagent, the lawyer at Leigh Day & Co representing Mr Rahmatullah, said: ‘Today’s judgment is a resounding affirmation of the principles of habeas corpus and its importance in defending the liberty of the individual from unbridled executive power.

‘The government’s attempts to row-back on centuries of constitutional development and restrict the reach of habeas corpus has been rejected by the highest Court in the land.

‘Sadly, despite the fact that in international law Mr Rahmatullah remains a British detainee and the United States does not consider him a security threat, our client remains in detention at Bagram.

‘The writ of habeas corpus now upheld by the Supreme Court failed to secure his release as the US failed to act on the writ and it was subsequently discharged.

‘We will be drawing the Supreme Court’s findings to the attention of the Metropolitan Police who are currently investigating our client’s case in relation to offences under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957.

‘We call on the government to engage with the US to bring to an end the ongoing breaches of the Geneva Conventions in our client’s case for which they are responsible.’

Reprieve, the legal charity with whose assistance Leigh Day brought this action on Mr Rahmatullah’s behalf, will continue to campaign for his release and return to his family in Pakistan.

Leigh Day will continue to assist in any way it can to finally bring Mr Rahmatullah’s incarceration to an end.

See also here.