British government accused of helping monarchist torturers in Nepal


This video says about itself:

Legal bid over MI5 torture guidance

A British human rights group has launching legal action against the government over guidelines the UK’s intelligence agencies on how to interrogate prisoners held overseas.

Reprieve, which represents former Guantanamo Bay detainees, says unpublished guidance from 2002 and 2004 is unlawful because it condones complicity in torture.

Alan Fisher reports from London.

(Feb 23, 2010)

From AFP news agency:

Britain accused of conniving at torture of Maoists in Nepal’s civil war

Author says MI6 assisted Nepalese army as it carried out gross human rights violations in war with Maoist rebels

Sunday 31 August 2014 04.18 BST

British authorities have been accused of funding a four-year intelligence operation in Nepal that led to Maoist rebels being arrested, tortured and killed during the country’s civil war.

Thomas Bell, the author of a new book on the conflict, says MI6 funded safe houses and provided training in surveillance and counter-insurgency tactics to Nepal’s army and spy agency, the National Investigation Department (NID) under “Operation Mustang”, launched in 2002.

Nepal’s decade-long civil war left more than 16,000 dead, with rebels and security forces accused of serious human rights violations including killings, rapes, torture and disappearances.

“According to senior Nepalese intelligence and army officials involved in the operation, British aid greatly strengthened their performance and led to about 100 arrests,” said Bell, whose book Kathmandu is released in south Asia on Thursday.

“It’s difficult to put an exact number on it, but certainly some of those who were arrested were tortured and disappeared,” he said.

Maoist commander Sadhuram Devkota, known by his nom-de-guerre Prashant, was among those captured during Operation Mustang, in November 2004. Six weeks later, he was found hanging from a low window in his cell. Officials said he had committed suicide.

Despite protests, no independent investigation was ever carried out.

British authorities helped construct a bug-proof building in the NID headquarters, created a secure radio network for communications and supplied everything from cameras to computers to mobile phones and night vision binoculars, according to Bell’s sources in the Nepalese security establishment.

“The agency also sent a small number of British officers to Nepal, around four or five – some tied to the embassy, others operating separately,” Bell said.

The officers gave the Nepalese training in how to place bugs, how to penetrate rebel networks and how to groom informers.

Bell spent about a year interviewing some 20 highly-placed sources to corroborate the details of the operation, and said a senior western official told him the operation was cleared by Britain’s Foreign Office.

A Nepalese general with close knowledge of the operation told Bell there was no doubt British authorities realised that some of the arrested suspects would be tortured and killed.

“Being British they must have thought about human rights also, but they knew exactly what was happening to them,” the general said. “The thing must have been approved at a high level.”

Bell said it was “a peculiar contradiction that while calling for an end to abuses … the British were secretly giving very significant help in arresting targets whom they knew were very likely to be tortured”.

Bell covered Nepal’s civil war from 2002 to 2007, reporting for the Economist and the South China Morning Post.

Tejshree Thapa, senior researcher at the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, told AFP: “Nepal’s army was known by 2002 to be an abusive force, responsible for … summary executions, torture, custodial detentions.

“To support such an army is tantamount to entrenching and encouraging abuse and impunity.”

ISIS torture based on Guantanamo torture


This video from the USA is called STILL Think Waterboarding Isn’t Torture? Try it Bush.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“James Foley waterboarded by ISIS

Update: Thursday 28 Aug 2014, 23:29

ISIS fighters in Syria have tortured at least four prisoners by waterboarding, The Washington Post reports. One of the victims was the American journalist James Foley, who was later beheaded.

In waterboarding someone gets a cloth over one’s face, then water is thrown over it. This leads to a feeling of drowning. The United States used the method often in Guantánamo Bay, until President Obama banned it.

ISIS has copied more Guantánamo techniques. Eg, ISIS prisoners also wear orange overalls and they are sometimes subjected to mock executions.

What to Do About ISIS: here.

Ill-treatment at Guantanamo torture camp continuing


This music video is called PJ Harvey – Shaker Aamer.

About this song:

3 August 2013

PJ Harvey has released a song to highlight the ongoing detention of the last British resident held inside the US prison at Guantánamo Bay.

The track, called Shaker Aamer was recorded by the Mercury prizewinning songwriter to help maintain pressure to have the 46-year-old, whose family live in south London, released back to Britain.

Aamer has been detained in Guantánamo for more than 11 years, despite being cleared for release in 2007, and remains imprisoned without charge or trial. He has a British wife and his four children — the youngest of whom he has never met — were all born in Britain. They live in Tooting, south London.

The British government has stated repeatedly that it wants him back in the UK and last week, under escalating international pressure, the US announced it is to restart transfers from the prison. Concerns remain, however, that Aamer might be forcibly sent to Saudi Arabia and imprisoned there instead of being reunited with his family in the UK.

Shaker Aamer

No water for three days.
I cannot sleep, or stay awake.

Four months hunger strike.
Am I dead, or am I alive?

With metal tubes we are force fed.
I honestly wish I was dead.

Strapped in the restraining chair.
Shaker Aamer, your friend.

In camp 5, eleven years.
Never Charged. Six years cleared.

They took awat my one note pad,
and they refused to give it back.

I can’t think straight, I write, then stop.
Your friend, Shaker Aamer. Lost.

The guards just do what they’re told,
the doctors just do what they’re told.

Like an old car I’m rusting away.
Your friend, Shaker, Guantanamo Bay.

Don’t forget.

© 2013 Hothead Music Ltd.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Shaker Aamer ‘beaten at Guantanamo

Thursday 28th August 2014

SHAKER AAMER has reportedly been brutally beaten at Guantanamo Bay in a savage new crackdown by US troops on inmates protesting against their incarceration without charge.

Legal action charity Reprieve said yesterday that prisoners had revealed a shocking new “standard procedure.”

Emad Hassan, a Yemeni man detained without charge since 2002, wrote that a “forcible cell extraction team has been brought in to beat the detainees.”

On Sunday Mr Aamer, the last British resident locked up in the US prison, was “beaten when the medical people wanted to draw blood,” Mr Hassan said.

Guards also severely beat another detainee in an ordeal lasting nearly two hours, he added.

In a forcible cell extraction armed guards burst into a prisoner’s room and savagely drag him out — often to take hunger-strikers to be force-fed, which the UN says is a form of torture.

At one point Mr Aamer, who has been locked up without trial or charge for 12-and-a-half years, was said to have been beaten by troops eight times a day.

Reprieve strategic director Cori Crider, who is one of Mr Aamer’s lawyers, said: “Just weeks ago, the UK government dismissed our concerns about Shaker Aamer’s wellbeing, relying on US assurances about a so-called Guantanamo ‘welfare package.’

“Now we hear that Shaker, already a seriously ill man, has been beaten.

Foreign Secretary “Phillip Hammond should seek answers from the US without delay about why, instead of simply releasing Shaker, it prefers to detain and abuse him.”

Mr Aamer remains locked up in the torture camp despite being cleared for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations, spending long periods of that time shut away in solitary confinement.

An independent medical examination conducted earlier this year showed that Mr Aamer was in extremely poor health, with severe post-traumatic stress and in dire need of psychiatric care and to return to his family.

In June, former foreign secretary William Hague told Reprieve that officials were confident Mr Aamer had access to a “detainee welfare package” and that his health “remained stable.”

In a letter sent this week, Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith urged Mr Hague’s successor Mr Hammond to interrogate the US about the latest reports of beatings.

See also here.

Ex-head CIA lawyer defends torture


This April 2014 video from the USA is called CIA Lied About Torture To Justify Using It (Senate Report).

By Eric London in the USA:

Former head CIA lawyer defends torture in Der Spiegel interview

27 August 2014

In an August 20 interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, former acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo defends his role as the legal architect of the US government’s international campaign of detention and torture.

In the interview, Rizzo, who worked at the CIA from 1976 to 2009, declares that although the torture programs he approved “seemed harsh, even brutal,” he does not regret his support for their implementation.

“I was certainly an architect of the interrogation program, even if I didn’t originally come up with it,” he says, adding, “I was the legal architect of the proposed list of techniques and played the lead role in obtaining legal approval for their use.”

He goes on to tell Der Spiegel, “I can’t honestly sit here and say I would have made any different decisions than the ones I made back in early 2002,” even as he asserts, “I am confident that, if I had chosen to, I could have stopped [the torture programs] before they started.”

At one point in the interview, Rizzo refers to an interrogation technique on the initial list provided by the Counter Terrorism Center that was “even more chilling than waterboarding.” He claims it was never used.

Asked by the interviewer what the technique was, Rizzo replies: “I’m not allowed to specify it; it is still classified. I had no preparation when the counterterrorism people came to me, and so my first reaction was one of being rather stunned by what was being proposed.”

Given the sadistic character of the so-called “enhanced interrogation” methods that have been acknowledged, one can only imagine the gruesome nature of the proposal that was supposedly rejected.

These statements make clear that Rizzo and his co-conspirators, including the highest officials in the Bush administration, were absolutely clear about the savage and inhuman measures they were implementing. Other parts of the interview establish that they were also well aware of their illegality.

“I had been at the CIA long enough at that point to know when a proposed activity was bound to get the agency in trouble,” Rizzo states, and then adds, “From the beginning, this proposal had deep trouble written all over it.”

The interview sheds light on the role of the Obama administration in protecting the architects of the state torture programs. It begins with Rizzo noting his “surprise” upon hearing Obama proclaim earlier this month that “we tortured some folks.”

What surprised Rizzo wasn’t the flippancy with which the president discussed violations of the US Constitution and international law. “What did surprise me, in a good way,” Rizzo says, “is that Obama went on to point out that the people who first conceived and carried out the program in the wake of 9/11 were under tremendous pressure to protect the country at a time of national crisis. He even called us patriots.”

Rizzo notes the rapidity with which Obama accepted and expanded the Bush administration’s police state “national security” programs. “With the exception of the interrogation program, he endorsed all operations and even intensified the general program,” the former CIA lawyer states.

He continues: “When Obama came into the White House, he reviewed the operations, found them all to be effective and valuable. Every US president fairly quickly comes to really value having the CIA at his disposal. The CIA reports directly to the president and responds to his wishes. It does what it does in secret, with no messy political debates. In Obama’s case, I think he recognized it almost immediately.”

Not only has Obama expanded the vast majority of the Bush-era programs, he has protected those responsible for torture. This goes beyond labeling the criminals as “patriots.”

John Brennan, who led the Counter Terrorism Center in 2004 and 2005, was appointed CIA director by Obama in 2013 and confirmed with the overwhelming support of Senate Democrats. Last May, Obama nominated David Barron, the author of the pseudo-legal memorandum authorizing drone assassinations of US citizens, for an open seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Barron easily won confirmation by the Senate.

More recently, the Obama administration has been delaying the release of a still-classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture that is widely expected to reveal state torture on an even broader scale than is currently known.

Obama allowed several of the architects of the state torture program to secretly view and redact the Senate report before its release. Rizzo himself was not amongst those given access to the document, a slight against which he indignantly protested.

Nevertheless, Rizzo is sufficiently confident that he faces no legal threat from the Obama administration, Congress or the courts, and can rely on the American media to cover up his crimes, that he boasts of his role in the torture program to a major international publication. The interview is, in fact, part of a publicity campaign to promote his new book about his years with the CIA.

That his confidence is well placed is demonstrated by the failure of any major US media outlet to report his interview with Der Spiegel.

The full complicity of Obama in the methods of torture and illegal detention pioneered by his predecessor is chillingly underscored by one exchange in the interview. Der Spiegel asks whether “the presidential directive you wrote with George Bush which allowed the targeted assassination of terror suspects” is still in effect. Rizzo replies: “It was signed just a few days after Sept. 11 and, as far as I know, it is still in effect today.”

Rizzo attempts to foist the blame for the torture and state assassination programs on the American people. When asked about the White House’s post-September 11 decision to authorize the CIA to “do whatever is necessary” to halt the ostensible terrorist threat, Rizzo says “the phrase is a characterization of the atmosphere and the consensus in the country.”

This is a lie. All of these programs were instituted secretly, behind the backs of the American public, precisely because those implementing them knew they would be massively opposed.

Rizzo’s interview should be taken as a warning to the working class. It reveals the prevalence within the highest echelons of the American state of fascistic elements who would have had no problem serving as functionaries of Hitler’s Gestapo or SS.

British government tries to hide role in CIA torture


This 12 July 2014 video is called Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA ‘torture flights’.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

UK ambassador ‘lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition

Rights groups claim that top-level talks were part of bid to redact link to Diego Garcia from report

Jamie Doward

Saturday 16 August 2014 21.45 BST

Logs released under the Freedom of Information Act have reinforced claims that the UK lobbied to keep its role in the CIA‘s torture and interrogation programme out of what is expected to be a damning Senate report.

They show that the UK ambassador to the US met members of the Senate select committee on intelligence 11 times between 2012 and 2014 – as they were investigating the CIA’s rendition programme. This included two meetings with the committee’s chair, Diane Feinstein, which took place as crucial decisions were being made regarding how much of its report into the programme should be made public.

The revelation has prompted fresh concern that the government lobbied for key parts of the report referring to Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean leased to the US as a military base, to be redacted. Human rights groups believe that the territory played a key role in facilitating the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme – the movement of high-value terrorist suspects to “black sites” around the world without legal oversight.

The US authorities have confirmed only that the territory was used for two refuelling stops. But there are suspicions Diego Garcia has played a more extensive role than the US has so far admitted, raising questions about when and what the UK knew about its use.

The release of the report on the torture and rendition programme has been delayed after the Democrats criticised what they claimed were excessive redactions made by the CIA. Sources suggest that the spy agency wanted as much as 15% of the report blacked out.

Former foreign secretary William Hague confirmed in a recent letter to the human rights group Reprieve that the UK government had discussed the report with the US, prompting concerns it had pushed for sections relating to Diego Garcia and possible other British involvement to be blacked out.

“We have made representations to seek assurances that ordinary procedures for clearance of UK material will be followed in the event that UK material provide[d] to the Senate committee were to be disclosed,” Hague explained.

Now the newly released logs reveal that UK ambassador Peter Westmacott met Feinstein on 29 April and 2 May this year, Senator Martin Heinrich on 16 July, and Senator Marco Rubio on 26 March 2014. The timing of the meetings appears significant. The committee voted to declassify its report’s summary and conclusions on 3 April this year, succeeding by 11 votes to three. Rubio voted against. Mid-April also saw numerous stories appear in the world’s press relating to Diego Garcia and the CIA’s rendition programme.

The ambassador met Rubio last year on 1 February and 10 April, Senator Saxby Chambliss on 20 November 2012, Senator Mark Warner on 11 January 2013, Senator Susan Collins on 16 July and 25 July 2012, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, the then chair, on 28 June 2012.

There were also at least 11 meetings between Britain’s then ambassador, Nigel Sheinwald, and members of the committee between 2009 and 2011, commencing shortly after the committee voted by 14-1 to investigate the rendition programme.

“This is yet more evidence of the desperate attempts being made by the UK to censor the Senate’s report on CIA torture,” said Reprieve’s executive director, Clare Algar. “We already know that our government was up to its neck in the CIA’s programme of rendition and torture – making it highly likely that the Senate’s report will contain information which is deeply embarrassing for them. But simple embarrassment is not a justification for suppressing the truth. Ministers must change course and instead support the publication of this crucial report in the most open and transparent form.”

Confirmation that a British territory was involved in extraordinary rendition could leave the government vulnerable to legal action. Last month the European court of human rights ruled that the Polish government had actively assisted the CIA’s European “black site” programme.

See also here.

Bolivia extradites Argentine dictatorship torture suspect


This video from the USA says about itself:

Argentine Torture Survivor Tells of Her Struggle to Bring Her Torturers to Justice

12 November 2010

Democracy Now! speak with Patricia Isasa, a torture survivor from Argentina’s military dictatorship. She was a 16-year old student union organizer in 1976 when she was kidnapped by police and soldiers. She was tortured and held prisoner without trial for two-and-a-half years at one of the 585 clandestine detention and torture centers set up during the dictatorship. After a long legal battle to bring her torturers to justice, six of her nine torturers were recently sentenced to prison.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bolivia deports former Argentine army captain over role in military junta’s dirty war

Tuesday 12th August 2014

Bolivia has deported an Argentine ex-army officer convicted of serious rights abuses during the “dirty war” carried out by his country’s 1976-83 military regime.

Jorge Horacio Paez Senestrari “was handed over to authorities of his country” on the border with Argentina, Bolivian Interior Minister Jorge Perez said yesterday.

Mr Perez said that Paez Senestrari — an infantry captain posted in the Argentine town of San Juan during the dictatorship — was captured on Friday morning in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.

Then Interior Ministry said there was an Interpol red notice for his arrest.

An Argentinian court had sentenced Paez Senestrari in absentia to 25 years on charges of “aggravated homicide, violation of domicile and torture.”

An estimated 30,000 people were killed or abducted and presumed killed under Argentina’s military dictatorship.

In 2012, former dictators Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for abuses in office.

Bahrain dictatorship spied on its own torture inquiry commission


This video is called ‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain‘ – human rights activist.

From Global Voices:

Evidence Suggests Bahrain’s Government Hacked its Own Fact Finding Commission

Posted 10 August 2014 21:46 GMT

Noor Mattar

While governments in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States are tracking individuals on hacking charges and proposing laws like the SOPA, David Cameron’s government seems to turn a blind eye toward the online piracy acts taken by their allies in Bahrain.

Bahrain, currently in its third year of a popular uprising, has witnessed a bloody crackdown that led to a fact finding mission called the “Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation” (BICI) to be formed. The commission, established by a royal decree by the King of Bahrain, concluded that Bahrain has practiced systematic torture against dissidents, extrajudicial killings and other serious offenses, including the demolishing of places of worship.

Lately Bahrain Watch revealed that a malware targeting its member Dr Ala’a Shehabi has led to identifying the makers of the spyware used against activists in Bahrain. Gamma International, an Anglo-German company, is being accused of selling surveillance technology to Bahrain’s government. After a court ruling in May 2014, many NGOs have called on the UK government to take action against the export of surveillance technology to Bahrain. Now, further information came to the hands of Bahrain Watch’s activists when 40GB of Gamma International’s data was leaked on the internet. The leaks show the Bahrain government has hacked lawyers and activists with the spyware. It also shows two records of people who are presumably members of the King’s BICI commission.

BICIfin

KMA is assumed to be judge Khaled Moheyuldin Ahmed, a member of the commission and now employed by the Bahraini government, who sources confirm was using a Sony VAIO laptop during the time he worked with BICI which coincide with the dates of infection. The other target who shares the same operation code and is named Douglas is believed to be Douglas Hansen-Luke, another member of the BICI.

Activists have long been accusing Bahrain government of breaching their privacy. Ever since the 2009 order to keep a record of all emails sent and received [source in Arabic] they have been trying to fight to keep their privacy.

Lawyer Mohamed Altajer told the rights group Bahrain Watch that his computer was compromised after a CD containing private footage was sent to him. His computer became infected with the spyware after watching that CD, sent to him to blackmail him to step down from defending Bahrainis arrested and tortured for their role in the protests:

Many others have said their photographs which were confiscated during police raids have turned up on porn sites and distributed across social media.

I asked Mr Matar Matar from the opposition society Alwefaq, who is a target of the spyware, to comment on the issue and he said when I asked if he can confirm if the society or any of its members were targeted:

Yes, the application was found on one of the devices in AlWefaq.

I asked him then if Alwefaq will take further legal action against Gamma, the Bahrain government or the any other party for this violatio. He answered:

The political influence on the judiciary System in Bahrain doesn’t provide any space to protect activists from surveillance. But this is an opportunity to move in legal action in UK courts. Now Alwefaq is in a better position to call HM Revenue & Customs, UK’s tax authority, to investigate in the illegal export of a hacking software for non-free regimes with a dark record of serious human rights violations. How come such a software is licensed to a regime which is considered be the third worst and 5th most declining regime in Freedom House report.

By UK law, Gamma must apply for country-specific licences in such cases and it doesn’t it seem did and Alwefaq is harmed by this violation. UK’s High Court already slammed the UK’s tax authority for hiding details about this issue. And this is the time for all those who were harmed by this violation to sue Gamma.

I asked him how does discovering Alwefaq is spied on affect the trust in the authority in Bahrain? He said:

Karim Fakrawi, co-founder of AlWefaq, was beaten to death in custody. During martial law, I was arbitrary detained with my colleague Jawad Fayrozz. Also the government revoked the citizenship of two former MPs from AlWefaq. They both are living in exile in addition to another 3 other MPs. In addition to that, five elected members municipality council have been dismissed. And currently AlWefaq is on trial for it to be suspended and three senior leaders are awaiting trial. Under these circumstances, the struggle with the regime is much beyond the surveillance.

I also asked Bill Marckzak of Bahrain Watch if he thinks the findings based on the leaks will be admissible in court and he commented:

I doubt the leaks themselves will be admissible in court, but, we are following up with the victims mentioned in the leaks to find out how they were targeted.

BICI was established based on a royal decree and the fact that it was spied on might suggest testimonies being tailored to mislead the commission. Gamma also deals directly with the government of Bahrain indicating that the spying is done with the knowledge of officials.

Meanwhile activists, bloggers and any other Bahrainis or anyone related to the situation in Bahrain could be on the list of people being spied on as the list is beyond political players as evidences of financial espionage were found. Bloggers like Takrooz were arrested due to similar technology and many more might be in danger. Their chances now are with taking Gamma International to court in the UK.

While the UK government tracks and arrests hackers it continues to allow selling surveillance technology to Bahrain and welcomes members of their widely criticized security apparatus to get training in the UK.