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


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.

British collusion in torture

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

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Britain’s secret shame revealed

Thursday 23 June 2011

by Paddy McGuffin, Home Affairs Reporter

Documents released detail involvement in ill-treatment of prisoners

Previously secret documents show a catalogue of “mishaps and failures” by the MoD in regard to its policy on extraordinary rendition, a group of MPs said today.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition (Appger) published a number of documents detailing the handing over of detainees to the US by British forces.

The documents show that the recent announcement by the Gibson Detainee Inquiry that it would not investigate detainee transfers “now looks unsustainable,” the group stated.

Commitee chairman Andrew Tyrie MP said he had been seeking the documents for more than three years but that the MoD had refused to disclose them until forced to do so by the Information Tribunal last month.

Among the documents are the previously secret 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between Britain and the US, further extracts of a 2008 Detention Practices Review and statistical information on detainees captured in Afghanistan.

Mr Tyrie said the documents revealed “a catalogue of MoD mishaps and failures, including a failure to track detainees handed over to the US, a weakening of protections for those handed over and a failure to keep proper records.

“The Detainee Inquiry’s position, that ‘military detention operations should not be one of the key themes for the inquiry’, now looks unsustainable.

“Without a comprehensive examination of rendition the drip-drip of allegations will continue.

“This is why it is essential that the Gibson Inquiry into rendition covers detainee transfers in theatre.”

He said that the fact that the MoD had relied on US standards of treatment for detainees was of particular concern as practices such as waterboarding have been declared lawful by the US.

Specific provisions to enable Britain to demand the return of people handed over to the US were removed from the memorandum in 2008, he added.

The documents also showed that from March 2003-June 2004 there was no tracking of detainees handed over to the US and full records on detainee handovers in Iraq were not seen or analysed during MoD investigations.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “These are just the latest revelations to add to our concern that the UK has been negligent over prisoner welfare and potentially complicit in rendition.

“While the UK makes the claim that it did not physically hand over prisoners in its custody to be tortured, there is clear evidence of a host of ways that UK officials were involved in rendition and prisoner ill-treatment.”

Also from the Morning Star:

The government will be challenged at the High Court tomorrow over its interrogation guidance to intelligence officers and the armed forces.

The guidance, announced by David Cameron last year, controversially allows the practice of “hooding” detainees despite the recognised serious health risks associated with the practice and its associations with the abuse of prisoners in British custody and Abu Ghraib.

Flawed government interrogation guidance could expose British troops and intelligence agents to charges of complicity in torture, the High Court heard today: here.

Eric Lichtblau and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times: “The Justice Department announced Thursday that it was opening a full criminal investigation into the deaths of two terrorism suspects in CIA custody overseas, but it was closing inquiries into the treatment of nearly 100 other detainees over the last decade. Attorney General Eric H Holder Jr said that a two-year review by a specially appointed prosecutor, John H Durham, had determined that any further investigation into that large group of cases ‘is not warranted.’ The inquiry into the two deaths, though, could result in criminal charges against Central Intelligence Agency officers or contractors”: here.

USA: Torture crimes officially, permanently shielded: here.

Campaign groups demanded today that the coalition government acts to end the illegal detention of the last British national in Guantanamo Bay: here.

Despite New Denials by Rumsfeld, Evidence Shows US Military Used Waterboarding-Style Torture. Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout: “In the controversy over whether torture, especially waterboarding, was used to gather information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden, former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld told Fox News’ Sean Hannity recently that ‘no one was waterboarded at Guantanamo by the US military. In fact, no one was waterboarded at Guantanamo, period.’ In his memoir, ‘Known and Unknown,’ Rumsfeld maintained, ‘To my knowledge, no US military personnel involved in interrogations waterboarded any detainees, not at – or anywhere else in the world.’ But as we shall see, Rumsfeld was either lying outright, or artfully twisting the truth”: here.

From the BBC:

The story – and the controversy – about the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is familiar and well-rehearsed.

But less-known is the story of what some have dubbed “Gitmo the Heartland” or “Guantanamo North” – two prison units on the US mainland where other inmates in the wider “war on terror” are being held in conditions that civil liberties groups regard as another post-9/11 challenge to normal judicial standards.

British government of war and torture

Anti-war campaigners have called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be be tried for war crimes as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war opened in London: here. See also here. And here. And here.

This video from the USA is called C.I.A. Kidnapping & Torture Challenged In Africa.

British intelligence colluded in the torture and abuse of five British nationals by Pakistani security forces, Human Rights Watch has said.

‘Cruel, illegal, immoral': Human Rights Watch condemns UK’s role in torture: here.

BRITISH COMPLICITY IN TORTURE – indicted by Human Rights Watch: here.

The Defence Secretary is expected to announce a public inquiry on Wednesday into allegations of torture and murder of Iraqi civilians by British troops: here.

Inquiry launched into claims 20 Iraqis were murdered and nine others tortured at a UK base in 2004: here.

Iraq was not the biggest worry for British officials trying to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction two years before it was invaded, the inquiry into the conflict has heard.

Until Chilcot hears UN weapons inspectors’ testimony, the fiction of Britain honestly seeking a WMD smoking gun prevails: here.

CHILCOT INQUIRY– ‘COME THE DAY YOU’LL BE THERE’ – Rumsfeld was sure that UK would go to war: here.

The British army has detained Lance Corporal Joe Glenton for 28 days after a hearing on Wednesday of last week for speaking out against the war in Afghanistan: here.

Reprieve investigation reveals MoD badly misled parliament – and defamed victims – on UK renditions case: here.