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.