Free innocent British Guantanamo Bay prisoner


This music video is called PJ HarveyShaker Aamer.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Guantanamo prison wife pleads with PM to secure release

Saturday 17th January 2015

THE wife of British Guantanamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer has issued a desperate plea to David Cameron, urging him to secure her husband’s freedom during his visit to the White House this week.

Mr Aamer, from south London, has been detained without charge or trial at the US prison camp since 2002.

This is despite his having twice been cleared for release, first by the Bush administration in 2007 and again by President Barack Obama in 2009.

In a heartfelt letter sent to the British Prime Minister, Zinneera Aamer said:

“Thirteen years ago my family was ripped apart when my husband was sold for a bounty and taken to Guantanamo Bay.

“He has never been charged with a crime. He has never faced a trial. He was cleared for release — told he could come home, in other words — by president Bush’s administration. He was then cleared for release a second time, by President Obama’s administration.

“We had such hope, when Mr Obama said he would close the prison — finally, we thought, our family’s ordeal will be over. It is hard to describe the crushing despair of having such hopes dashed.”

She went on to say: “I know that you know all of this. But I hope that if I lay out the desperate state of affairs once again — and it would be foolish to suggest we are anything other than desperate — you will be moved to raise Shaker’s case with President Obama when you meet him, and that you will get Shaker home.”

Grave concerns have long been expressed for Mr Aamer’s mental and physical well-being amid reports that he has suffered repeated abuse, almost daily beatings and long periods in solitary confinement.

Mr Aamer and his British wife, Zinneera, have four British children — the youngest of whom has never met his father.

Cori Crider, a director at legal charity Reprieve who represents Mr Aamer, said: “Successive British governments have claimed to have ‘raised Shaker’s case’ with the US over the years — yet he’s still locked up in Guantanamo without charge or trial, suffering terrible mistreatment every day.

“Enough delays. David Cameron must listen to Shaker’s wife and children, and come back from the White House with a clear timeline for Shaker’s release.”

Innocent Afghan prisoners leave Guantánamo torture camp after twelve years


This video from Channel 4 TV in Britain is called Torture -The Guantanamo Guidebook.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

US releases four Guantánamo Bay prisoners to Afghanistan

Martin Pengelly in New York and agencies

Saturday 20 December 2014 17.52 GMT

The US announced on Saturday the release of four more prisoners from the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. The four men were repatriated to Afghanistan.

The men, who had been in the camp for more than 10 years, were named as Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir. They had been cleared for transfer for some time and are not considered to represent security risks in Afghanistan, where US troops are still deployed.

A US official told Reuters the men were flown to Kabul overnight, aboard a US military plane, and released to Afghan authorities in the first such transfer since 2009. The official said the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, had requested the transfer.

The release of the men reduces the number of inmates held at Guantánamo to 132, eight of whom are from Afghanistan.

Khan, 51, was sent to Guantánamo 11 years ago “on the flimsiest of allegations”, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. His lawyers said he had been a driver for the Hamid Karzai government.

According to a database compiled by the New York Times and National Public Radio, Gul, 51, was arrested in 2002 and accused of being a Taliban intelligence officer. He said he never worked for the group and that two of his “enemies” had turned him over to US troops.

Ghani, 42, was captured in 2002 as a suspected member of a Taliban-linked faction and was originally accused of “war crimes”. He said someone falsely accused him of carrying out a rocket attack; he was cleared by an inter-agency review.

Zahir, 61, was arrested in 2003 and accused of links to Taliban weapons caches, but he denied any connection and was also cleared for transfer.

A Pentagon statement said the men had been “unanimously approved for transfer” by an inter-agency task force and that the secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, had informed Congress of the decision to release them.

According to the Associated Press, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, had opposed the release. Officials said Campbell and all military leaders on the ground had now screened the move. The AP also reported that an official involved in the review said most of the terrorism accusations against the men had been discarded.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order to close Guantánamo in January 2009.

However, now, almost six lears later, it it is still open, with ill-treatment continuing.

Earlier this month, six inmates were released to Uruguay.

Among the men released to Uruguay was Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian man who is challenging in court the Obama administration’s use of force-feeding at the base.

Want to know the reality of US torture? Ask Shaker Aamer: here.

CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CALLS FOR GUANTANAMO CLOSURE General Martin Dempsey called the prison “a psychological scar on our national values.” [HuffPost]

Innocent prisoner still in Guantanamo torture camp


This video from the Center for Constitutional Rights in the USA says about itself:

Waiting for Fahd: One Family’s Hope for Life Beyond Guantánamo

2 December 2014

Share the film with everyone you know: http://www.ccrjustice.org/fahd, with #FreeFahd.

The heartrending documentary “Waiting for Fahd,” tells the story of CCR client Fahd Ghazy, a Yemeni national unlawfully detained at Guantánamo since he was 17 and who is now 30. Through moving interviews with his beloved family in Yemen, “Waiting for Fahd” paints a vivid portrait of the life that awaits a man who, despite being twice cleared for release, continues to languish at Guantánamo, denied his home, his livelihood, and his loved ones because of his nationality.

Stand in solidarity with Fahd by taking a photograph of yourself holding a #FreeFahd sign and upload it to our Tumblr page, FreeFahd.tumblr.com.

Plan a screening of the film in your town, at your school, your church/mosque/synagogue, your home – wherever you are. Contact CCR for a DVD copy and our screening toolkit. Please note whether you would like the Arabic version of the film and advocacy materials.

Educate yourself, and your family, friends and neighbors about the human rights disgrace that is Guantánamo. Visit ccrjustice.org/closegitmo for resources, more information about CCR’s work to end indefinite detention and close Guantánamo, and profiles of our other clients.

Prisoners tortured in Guantanamo and Bagram


Protest outside parliament in London, England demanding the release of Shaker Aamer from detention in Guantanamo Bay prison

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

TORTURE & FORCE FEEDING IN G-BAY AND BAGRAM PRISON

GLOBAL youth media company ‘Vice’ on Monday launched a week-long special edition of their website Vice.com about Guantanamo Bay, featuring testimony from clients represented by human rights organisation Reprieve.

The special edition includes first-hand testimony from detainees Shaker Aamer, Emad Hassan and Younous Chekkouri, who have been cleared for release from the prison yet remain detained without charge or trial.

It also includes original essay contributions from Jeremy Paxman, Melvyn Bragg, John le Carré and Frederick Forsyth.

British resident Shaker Aamer has been detained in Guantanamo since 2002 despite having been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

The British government has repeatedly stated that Shaker should be returned as a matter of urgency to his British wife and their four children in London.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond recently dismissed concerns over the abuse faced by Shaker in Guantanamo.

Reprieve has undertaken litigation in the US – on behalf of long-time hunger striking client Abu Wa’el Dhiab – challenging the legality of the methods used to force-feed men in Guantanamo Bay.

Video tapes of Dhiab being manhandled to the force-feeding chair – dubbed ‘torture chair’ by the detainees – and force-fed, have been ordered released by a US federal judge.

Cori Crider, Strategic Director of Reprieve and attorney for the men in Guantanamo, said: ‘Guantanamo is a legal black hole and an affront to justice the world over.

‘This special edition of Vice brings much-needed attention to the plight of those men who remain detained without charge or trial.

‘The US administration is currently trying to stop video tapes of force-feedings being released to public scrutiny as part of its continuing efforts to keep transparency far away from Guantanamo.

‘The US must release these tapes – and the prison from which they came must be closed at once.’

Vice.com article, Growing up, Guantanamo says:

Mohammed el Gharani, a citizen of Chad raised in Saudi Arabia, had just turned 15 when he arrived at Guantánamo Bay in February 2002, shepherded off a military cargo plane wearing shackles and blackout goggles.

‘He weighed 126 pounds, was too young to shave, and for months didn’t know where he was. “Some brothers said Europe,” he later recalled in an interview with the London Review of Books.

‘Others thought the unsparing winter sun suggested Brazil. When an interrogator finally told him he was in Cuba, Mohammed didn’t recognise the name. “An island in the middle of the ocean,” the interrogator said. “Nobody can run away from here and you’ll be here forever.”

Omar Khadr, born in Toronto, was also shipped to the offshore prison as a juvenile.

‘The 16-year-old made an early impression on the Army chaplain on base, who, walking by his cell, found Omar curled up asleep, arms wrapped tightly around a Disney book with drawings of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. “He definitely seemed out of place,” the chaplain told reporter Michelle Shephard, who wrote about Omar in her book Guantánamo’s Child?

‘Fahd Ghazy, who grew up in a Yemeni farming village, was seized when he was 17. He had recently graduated at the top of his high-school class.

‘One of Guantánamo’s earliest detainees, he was initially housed in the jerrybuilt, open-air cages of Camp X-Ray. Around the time he was transferred to a permanent cellblock, Fahd learned he’d won a university scholarship to study in Yemen’s capitol, Sana’a.

‘Nearly 13 years later, he’s still at the naval base – still without charge.

‘Swept up as juveniles, Mohammed, Omar, and Fahd were among some 15 to 20 detainees whose adolescence and early adulthood unfolded within the desolate confines of the prison camp, marked by isolation, abusive treatment and the chronic stress of indefinite detention.

‘For years, the Pentagon misreported how many children had been seized. “They don’t come with birth certificates,” a Guantánamo public affairs officer told the New York Times in 2005.

‘To this day, the government considers Fahd to be older than he is, explains his lawyer, Omar Farah of the Centre for Constitutional Rights.

‘While visiting Fahd’s relatives in rural Yemen last year, Farah confirmed the birth date Fahd has consistently maintained, recorded in his family’s Koran.

‘“Because they’re developing, they’re more vulnerable to being traumatised,” says Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a retired brigadier general and child psychiatrist who’s served as a medical expert in several cases at Guantánamo. “They’re detached from their families, they don’t have schooling, and they’re thrown in with adults in this adversarial climate.”

‘International juvenile justice standards identify child soldiers first and foremost as victims in need of representation and rehabilitation.

‘The first prisoner Xenakis evaluated was Omar – deemed high profile because his father had ties to Osama bin Laden – who’d been accused of lobbing a grenade that killed an American medic during a firefight in Afghanistan.

‘Gravely injured in the confrontation, Omar was found under a pile of debris with two bullet holes in his back and shrapnel in his eyes.

‘But Omar was air-evaced to Bagram and interrogated almost immediately – pain relief for his injuries withheld during questioning.

‘Years later, in an interrogation room that doubled as an office for doctor-patient interviews, Omar would say to Xenakis, “I’ll tell you what happened in this room.”

‘He described being used as a “human mop”: after painful stress positions caused him to urinate on the floor, he said, military police poured pine oil on his body and dragged him through the liquid.

“These were kids,” says Xenakis. “They’re threatened and harshly interrogated, they’re frightened. I just didn’t think it was consistent with our values as a country.’

‘Dennis Edney, Omar’s longtime civilian lawyer, recalls his client’s bearing during their first meeting in 2004. “I went into one of those cold, windowless cells,” Edney says, “and saw a young boy chained to the floor, trying to keep himself warm. He was blind in one eye, with paralysis in his right arm. He reminded me of a little broken bird. I recall the absolute shock I felt witnessing this lonely, abject figure.”

‘Plagued by procedural snarls and an ever-changing rulebook, Omar’s military commissions case dragged on for years.

‘Had he gone to trial as scheduled in 2010, he would have been the first child soldier to be prosecuted for war crimes since World War II, “a terrible precedent”, according to Human Rights Watch.

‘Instead, after a military judge ruled admissible his statements obtained under torture, Omar pled guilty to all charges, avoiding further entanglement with a system he’d described before the court as “constructed to convict detainees, not find the truth”.

Now 28 and serving an eight-year sentence in Canada, Omar remains close to Xenakis, who provides ongoing support. “He’s going to have some real challenges when he’s out,” Xenakis says. “How does he recover the skills to communicate and socialise outside the prison setting? How does he act in an environment where he can make his own choices? He’s very conscientious and diligent, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up.”

‘According to Polly Rossdale, who directs the Life After Guantánamo project for the human rights group Reprieve, the most ordinary tasks and desires often strike former detainees as insurmountable and unachievable. “When they get out,” she says, “the main things that men call me up about are, ‘How am I going to find a wife?’ Or they want to go to computer class and get computer skills.” Some have been consumed by panic in the shampoo aisle, while others can’t remember how to put on a seatbelt.

The article reveals that an ex-G-Bay prisoner Mohammed, who finally made it out of Chad in 2011, is married now, his second child born earlier this year.

‘He named the baby Shaker, after Shaker Aamer, a mentor and friend still imprisoned at Guantánamo. “Shaker was one of the men who really looked after Mohammed because he was a young boy,” Rossdale explains. “This is his way of saying thank you.’

‘Of the 779 men imprisoned at Guantánamo, roughly 600 were eventually released without charge. Nevertheless, heavy stigma has burdened former detainees looking for work or community acceptance . . .

‘Eighty-seven of Guantánamo’s remaining 148 detainees are from Yemen, 58 of whom have been cleared for transfer . . .’

Poet Hilaire read out a piece for Shaker Aamer in Parliament at a meeting demanding the release of Britain’s last prisoner still held in Guantanamo Bay: here.

President Barack Obama’s half-hearted five-year bid to to close the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba suffered a major setback on Monday. Reactionary senators finalising the annual Defence Policy Bill rejected steps toward shutting the torture camp: here.

‘British government missed chance to free ISIS prisoner Alan Henning’


This video from Britain says about itself:

Moazzam Begg interview: ‘MI5 gave me the green light to go [to] Syria’ | Channel 4 News

3 October 2014

Moazzam Begg was released from prison on Wednesday after MI5 handed over documents to the police. He claims security services knew all about his trip to Syria – and the papers appear to back it up.

By Luke James in Britain:

Government ‘turned down Begg help’ for Henning release

Wednesday 8th October 2014

Ex-Guantanamo detainee offered to negotiate with Isis

FORMER Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg revealed yesterday that his offer to help the government free murdered Brit Alan Henning from Isis extremists was turned down.

Mr Begg claimed on Radio 4’s Today programme to know the identity of the group holding Mr Henning.

He said he could have helped to secure the release of the taxi driver-turned-aid worker by delivering a “heartfelt” message to his captors in Arabic.

“I know the people who may have been holding him,” he said.

“I don’t think he’s [Jihadi John] responsible for holding him, I think there’s people much higher up the ladder within Isis.”

Mr Begg, who spent two years in Guantanamo without charge, said the Manchester man’s friends had appealed to him for help in December 2013.

He then made contact with former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt — but his help was turned down and [he] was arrested a few weeks later.

He said: “The message that I was going to deliver could probably not have been delivered by anybody else because of the language — the terminology, the understanding, the connection that I could have made to that world was very specific and exclusive to me.”

The Birmingham man was arrested by British police officers in February on seven terror charges connected to the conflict in Syria.

All charges against him have now been dropped and he spoke yesterday after being released from Belmarsh Prison on October 1.

A video released by Isis at the weekend showed Mr Henning had been beheaded, making him the second British Isis victim.

In the wake of the murder, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has said she will refuse to call the extremists “Islamic State.”

She said: “I will never call them Islamic State because so many Muslims are suffering at the hands of Isis or Isil or whatever.”

Ms Harman made the pledge at a Muslim Friends of Labour eid celebration at the party’s London headquarters on Monday evening.

Labour Ealing Central and Acton candidate Rupa Huq added: “The actions of Islamic State are barbaric and medieval — they’re not Islamic and they’re not a state.”

Moazam Begg, ex-Guantanamo prisoner, freed after ‘anti-terrorist’ witchhunt


This video is called Ex-Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg released after terror charges dropped.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Moazzam Begg freed after terrorism case against him collapses

Secret intelligence material handed to prosecutors demolished case against former Guantánamo Bay detainee

Ian Cobain

Wednesday 1 October 2014 17.22 BST

The prosecution of the former Guantánamo inmate Moazzam Begg has dramatically collapsed after the police and crown prosecutors were handed secret intelligence material that undermined the terrorism case against him.

Five days before Begg was due to go on trial on a string of terrorism charges, which carried prison terms of up to 15 years, prosecutors announced at the Old Bailey that they had “recently become aware of relevant material” that obliged them to offer no evidence.

He was released from Belmarsh high-security prison in south London after the judge entered a formal verdict of not guilty. Speaking to reporters at the gates of the prison, Begg said he had wanted his “day in court” but was happy to be a free man.

“I need to reconnect with my family again,” he said. “I need to understand what it’s like to be a free man and I think that it’s important to point out some of the government’s failures in its foreign policy and its internal policy: its clear demonising of the Muslim community.”

Police sources said the decision to halt the prosecution was taken following the receipt of intelligence material two months ago, while the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement: “If we had been made aware of all of this information at the time of charging, we would not have charged.”

Asked whether the information had been handed over by MI5 and, if so, how long the agency had possessed the material, the Home Office said it would be inappropriate to comment, on the grounds that the decision to halt the prosecution had been taken by the police and CPS.

There was speculation that the newly disclosed material detailed the way in which Begg had informed British authorities of his plans to travel to Syria.

Begg spent more than seven months in custody after being arrested and questioned over a number of trips he had made to Syria a year earlier. His friends say that the experience had been deeply traumatic.

The 46-year-old from Birmingham was facing seven charges of possessing a document for the purposes of terrorism funding and training, and attending a terrorism training camp. He denied all the charges.

Christopher Hehir, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey that the CPS had previously been satisfied that they possessed sufficient evidence to secure Begg’s prosecution. He added, however: “The prosecution have recently become aware of relevant material, in the light of which, after careful and anxious consideration, the conclusion has been reached that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction in this case. The prosecution therefore offers no evidence.”

Begg’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, said he should never have been charged as his activities did not amount to terrorism. “This is a good man trying to do the right thing in a very difficult world,” she said.

“He is a rare individual who will talk to everyone and listen to everyone, even those with whom he profoundly disagrees. He has spent the near decade since he was released from the torture of Bagram and Guantánamo in attempting to wake the world up to injustice and to comprehend its causes and effects. There is nothing new that can have been discovered now that was not always crystal clear – that this is an innocent man.”

Begg had made no secret of trips he had made to Syria, at one point writing about his experiences in an internet post. He was taken aback by his arrest, protesting that he had not been engaged in terrorism.

On appearing in court, he denied attending a terrorist training camp “knowing or believing instruction or training was provided there for the purposes of terrorism” between 9 October 2012 and 9 April 2013.

He had also denied five charges of possessing articles for purposes connected with terrorism between 31 December 2012 and 26 February 2014. Those counts related to electronic documents found on a laptop computer in his possession.

Begg had further denied being involved in a funding arrangement between 14 July 2013 and 26 February 2014 by making available a Honda generator.

Had the case gone to trial, Begg was planning to argue before the jury that his actions – several months before the British government tried, and failed, to persuade parliament to sanction air strikes against Syrian government forces – were not the actions of a terrorist.

At an earlier hearing, his counsel, Ben Emmerson QC, told the court that his client’s stance on Syria was not at odds with the British government’s position. …

“This is not some sort of political defence. This is a serious point about the lethal and physical limits of the definition of terrorism because if the defence says the occasions concerned were defensive actions, in much the same way the UK was itself providing non-lethal aid, then we submit that would not be defined as an act of terrorism.”

Emmerson also said Begg had “never made any secret of his visits to Syria and on two occasions informed authorities of his travel plans in advance”.

Begg spent three years detained without charge after the al-Qaida attacks of 2001. In February 2002 he was arrested in Pakistan, handed over to US forces, and detained first at Bagram prison, north of Kabul, and then Guantánamo Bay. During his detention he was interrogated by British as well as US intelligence officers.

He was eventually released in January 2005. Working with the London-based rights group Cage, he became a prominent campaigner on behalf of terrorism suspects who were being denied basic legal rights.

Asim Qureshi, Cage’s research director, said on the collapse of Begg’s prosecution: “This has been a testing time for Moazzam, his family and the Muslim community. The criminalisation of virtually any Muslim who has been to Syria has only increased in intensity, while Cage has been attacked from every angle by a host of government agencies.

“We hope that Moazzam’s release is a sign that the government are now willing to adopt a more measured strategy in relation to anti-terrorism policy and avoid the attempt to criminalise all dissent and crush any organisation like Cage that stands up for the rule of law and justice.”

The Islamic Human Rights Commission chairman, Massoud Shadjareh, added: “As was widely suspected there seems to have been no basis for his arrest and it does seem that as a high-profile member of the Muslim community, Mr Begg was being made an example of in order to silence activists campaigning against draconian anti-terrorism laws.”

While West Midlands police and the CPS were not disclosing the exact nature of the new information, detectives and prosecutors were dismayed that it had not been made available to them earlier.

A CPS spokesperson said: “At the time that the charges against Mr Begg were authorised the CPS was satisfied, in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors, that there was sufficient evidence available to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction and that it was in the public interest to prosecute. However, in accordance with our continuing duty to review and working closely with the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit, we have been made aware of material previously not known to the police investigation that means that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. If we had been made aware of all of this information at the time of charging, we would not have charged.”

West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: “New material has recently been disclosed to police and CPS, which has a significant impact on key pieces of evidence that underpinned the prosecution’s case. Our criminal justice system – quite rightly – demands a very high standard of proof.

“I understand this is going to raise many questions. However, explaining what this newly revealed information is would mean discussing other aspects of the case which would be unfair and inappropriate as they are no longer going to be tested in court.

“From the beginning this case has challenged the relationship between West Midlands police and some of the communities we serve. I would like to reassure them and Mr Begg that at every stage of this investigation my officers acted in the best interests of the public and of justice.”

Moazzam Begg complains of ‘malicious’ and ‘vindictive’ detention. Former Guantánamo inmate says it is inevitable he will bring proceedings against MI5 after terror case collapses: here.

Ruling on a request filed by the Obama administration, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler agreed Thursday to grant a one-month delay on the release of videotapes showing the barbaric force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp: here.