Thursday, January 11, 2018

11 January 2018: Candlelight Vigil to Mark 16 Years of Guantánamo
Please bring candles and banners with your messages to President Trump to our vigil to mark the 16th anniversary of Guantánamo, and possibly our last large demonstration outside the iconic Grosvenor Square building - solidarity and protest!

MEDIA RELEASE: London Guantánamo Campaign to Mark Guantánamo 16th Anniversary with US Embassy Candlelight Vigil, Thursday 11 January 2018, 6-8pm

For immediate release: Thursday 11 January 2018
The London Guantánamo Campaign [1] and human rights activists will mark the sixteenth anniversary of the opening of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp with a candlelight vigil [2] outside the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, at 6-8pm on Thursday 11 January 2018.

As part of this solidarity action, activists will hold up images of the 41 men who remain at Guantánamo Bay, largely without charge, trial or the prospect of release [3]. 

Aisha Maniar, organiser from the London Guantánamo Campaign, says, "While it is a positive development that Donald Trump has not gone through with his pre-election threat to load up Guantánamo with “bad dudes” [4], far less attention has been paid to the fact that many of Trump’s more noxious policies have been facilitated by the actions of previous presidents. This includes sixteen years of the continued operation of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp and the "war on terror" more broadly.

“In addition, the rights violating practices surrounding Guantanamo are now a model for the detention and incarceration polices of the US and other states. Plans to expand immigration detention for undocumented migrants and the deplorable conditions in such facilities [5] are connected to Guantánamo’s origins and existence, as Trump’s initial travel ban included only Iran in addition to the states in which the resettlement of Guantánamo prisoners [6] was already prohibited.

“Elsewhere, the fact that none of the remaining prisoners were captured on the battlefield by the US military and that eighty-six percent were sold into US custody by Afghan militias and the Pakistani military for cash bounties [7] finds its contemporary resonance in the current brutal slave trade in migrants in Libya. It is the failure of the international community, and not just of the US, to act to close Guantánamo that has helped to legitimise this status quo.

“With the US Embassy due to move imminently to new premises in south London, after over a decade of sustained and continuous protest against Guantánamo at this famous site, it is likely to be our last large protest there. It is a shame that the US has been able to build and transfer its British embassy faster than it is able to close Guantánamo.”



1. The London Guantánamo Campaign was set up in 2006 and campaigns for justice for all prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, for the closure of this and other secret prisons, and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition.

This event will be preceded by another anniversary vigil in Trafalgar Square at 12-3pm organised by the Guantanamo Justice Campaign

6. Originally Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Somalia; Iraq and Sudan were later removed from the list.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

LGC Newsletter – December 2017

Guantánamo Bay
The resettlement in third countries of Guantánamo prisoners cleared for release under Barack Obama was often linked to cash, trade and diplomatic deals between the US and the host country. The resettlement of four Chinese Uighur refugees in Bermuda in 2009, where they and their families are practically hostages as they cannot leave the island even for urgent medical treatment, is one of the deals concerning which there has been much speculation and obscurity. In late 2017, a $20,000 per month deal was brokered by the government of Bermuda and a lobbying firm run by a former senior political strategist for Barack Obama who was involved in his election campaign as well as being present when the men arrived in Bermuda. Another company run by the same man, Art Collins, is reported to have come up with the idea of resettling the men in Bermuda. The island, a British Overseas Territory, is also a tax haven and the services to be provided under the contract relate to taxation and compliance.  

In November, Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, the chief defence counsel for military commissions, spent two days in confinement at Guantánamo after being found guilty of contempt at the war court in the case of Abd Al-Nashiri for disobeying orders when he refused to testify before the judge and withdraw a decision he made to allow some of the civilian defence lawyers in the case to quit. He was sentenced to 28 days but did not serve the full sentence or pay the $1000 fine as the sentence was suspended. In early December, his lawyers filed a lawsuit to have the conviction overturned as the conviction – the only one at Guantánamo under Trump – could affect his career negatively. He is represented by volunteer lawyers who also applied to the federal courts to have him released when he was confined at Guantánamo.

Pre-trial hearing continued in the case of 5 men accused of involvement in the September 2001 attacks in New York. On 6 December, a retired FBI agent, who claims that she questioned him without the use of torture – although she did not say whether she had used torture-based evidence to formulate the questions she asked – said that Saudi Mustafa Al-Hawsawi admitted to helping with the flights and finances of seven of the 19 men who hijacked the planes used in the attack during a 2007 interrogation. This interrogation would have taken place shortly after he arrived at Guantánamo following years of severe torture at various secret CIA jails all over the world. Hawsawi has outstanding cases for torture complicity by European states at the European Court of Human Rights.
As part of the hearing, his lawyers are challenging the idea that the war on terror started before 9/11 and that if it started subsequently, he should be tried before a civil court and not a military tribunal as his alleged involvement predates the attacks themselves, given that he is accused of being a businessman who financed them and other Al Qaeda activities.
The agent Abigail Perkins had collected documents from the United Arab Emirates prior to his kidnap and rendition, such as bank documents and phone bills. He did not attend the hearing himself as he suffers from back and rectal pain from the years of physical and sexual torture he suffered at the hands of the CIA, which make it difficult for him to sit for too long.

The war court prosecutor issued new charges against three prisoners – Indonesian Riduan bin Isomuddin, known as Hambali, and two Malaysians Bashir Lap and Mohamed Farik Bin Amin, considered his aides, accused of involvement in attacks on western targets in Indonesia. The two Malaysians were added as co-conspirators for the first time. They are accused of “murder, terrorism, attacking civilians and civilian objects, attempted murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury and destruction of property as a war crime”. Charges were initially brought against Hambali in June 2017. The three arrived in Guantánamo in 2006 after years in secret CIA prisoners and were not charged for over a decade.
However, on 20 December, the case was returned without approval by the Pentagon due to a “procedural issue”.

On 13 December, Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, slammed the US for ongoing torture at Guantánamo and its failure to bring those responsible for these practices to account. He said that the US is acting in violation of the Convention Against Torture and criticised the admissibility of evidence obtained from torture before the military tribunal.

Following issues related to client-lawyer privilege, including eavesdropping on conversations and other issues that may have led to the resignation of Abd Al-Nashiri’s legal team, proposals have been put forward for a private attorney-client meeting place at Guantánamo, as requested by a Pentagon official. However, the specifications “for the new site envision six meeting rooms equipped with security cameras linked to a control room; a place for captives to make or receive telephone calls as well as “control and listening rooms.”” It is also expected to be wheelchair accessible. Lawyers for defendants held at Guantánamo are sceptical that they can trust that they will be allowed to have confidential conversations with their clients at Guantánamo.

Extraordinary rendition
An American citizen who has been held without access to a lawyer since handing himself over to the US military in Iraq in September is reported to have asked for a lawyer. The man has been seen by the Red Cross but the US has been wary about releasing any information about him. By failing to give him access to a lawyer to challenge the grounds of his detention – which remain unknown – the Trump administration has breached the US constitution.
The man is being held as an “enemy combatant” and allegedly fought with ISIS. It later emerged that the man is also a Saudi citizen. The ACLU has learned that the man has been interrogated by the FBI and others during his detention.
The ACLU has sued the US government to be able to provide the man with legal counsel. The man has not been charged but on Christmas Eve, a federal judge ruled that the US military must provide the man with a lawyer, and to grant the ACLU “"immediate and unmonitored access to the detainee" so that it can determine whether he wants the ACLU to represent him. The judge also ordered the Defense Department not to transfer the detainee until the ACLU tells the court of the detainee's wishes.”.

LGC Activities:
The December Shut Guantánamo! monthly demonstration was on 7 December. In January, there will be two events on 11 January in London to mark 16 years of Guantánamo, a vigil in Trafalgar Square from 12-3pm organised by the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and a candlelight vigil outside the US Embassy at 6-8pm organised by the LGC: With the US Embassy relocating to Nine Elms in the coming week, after almost 12 years of protest this is likely to be our last major Guantánamo demo at this historic site. Please do join us!