Monday, January 30, 2012

LGC Newsletter – January 2012


Guantánamo Bay:
Guantánamo Bay had its tenth birthday on Wednesday 11 January. While this was marked by protests, meetings and other actions all over the world, the prisoners themselves chose to mark it with a hunger strike. According to a lawyer of some of the men held there, they also marked it with protests in the communal areas of the illegal prison.
During Prime Minister’s Question Time the day before, David Cameron told the House of Commons, in response to a question put to him, that: “The foreign secretary is working very hard with the United States to try and secure this issue and to bring this chapter to a close” and is seeking the release of Shaker Aamer to the United Kingdom; William Hague discussed the matter with his American counterpart at the end of 2011.

On 17 and 18 January, a military commission hearing was held at Guantánamo Bay in the case of Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, for his alleged involvement in the bombing of a US warship off the coast of Yemen in 2000. Al-Nashiri faces the death penalty if convicted and the evidence in his case has in part been obtained through the use of torture, including waterboarding, when he was held at secret CIA facilities as a victim of extraordinary rendition between 2002 and 2004. During the two-day hearing, various motions were put to the judge concerning procedural matters in the case, such as having an open hearing, what evidence is to be used, and issues related to fairness and costs. Observers at this very important case noted that due to the complicated rules of military commissions and the lack of any judicial precedent for the judge to follow, many of these issues remained unresolved after the hearing, which has been set back until April, when these issues will be considered again. Observers from the ACLU concluded that were the trial to be held before a civil court, in such a case where the death penalty may be applied, the proceedings would progress much faster.

On 13 January, a senior Spanish judge reopened an investigation into four cases of torture alleged by prisoners formerly held at Guantánamo Bay. In making his decision, Judge Pablo Rafael Ruz Gutierrez sought additional information, including medical reports, NGO reports, and testimonies from former US military officials. Specific charges have not been brought yet pending further investigation. This case, brought under universal jurisdiction laws, followed a request by the Bush administration to Spain to prosecute a prisoner released to Spain, Lahcen Ikassrien, on terrorism charges. He was tried and convicted; however, the case was later thrown out on appeal as the evidence was unreliable as he had been tortured. He was joined in his complaint by another former Spanish prisoner and two British residents, whose extradition Spain had sought upon their release from Guantánamo Bay in 2007, Jamil El-Banna and Omar Deghayes. As the Obama administration has decided not to prosecute any officials for crimes related to Guantánamo Bay and the wider war on terror under the Bush administration, the Spanish judiciary will instead hold its own investigation.

Following news of official investigations in the UK and Spain, a French investigating magistrate has made an official request to visit Guantánamo Bay as part of an investigation into allegations of torture and abuse by three former French prisoners. Judge Sophie Clement is also seeking all documents concerning procedures and conditions of prisoner treatment relating to the time that they were arrested and held in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The three former prisoners are Mourad Benchellali, Nizar Sassi and Khaled Ben Mustapha. She may also seek to question former and current US military personnel and prosecutions of foreign officials may be brought in France.

On 23 January, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, condemned the US government, on the third anniversary of President Obama’s broken promise to close the illegal jail, for having “entrenched a system of arbitrary detention” and the lack of accountability for human rights violations there. She also condemned the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which “make[s] matters worse”.

A former Algerian prisoner, Abdul Aziz Naji, who was forced to return to Algeria against his will by the Obama administration in 2010 after being cleared for released, has been sent to jail in Algeria following charges brought against him based on the unsubstantiated claims of membership of a terrorist organisation for which he was held at Guantánamo. A guilty verdict was delivered without any evidence being shown and Mr Naji, who is in poor health, was imprisoned. He plans to appeal. Upon return to Algeria in 2010, he “disappeared” immediately for over a week as he was held by the security forces.

Extraordinary rendition:
One of the men, in whose 2004 rendition to Libya the British government was found to be complicit, following documents found by Human Rights Watch in Tripoli in September last year, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, withdrew his participation in the Gibson (Detainee) Inquiry on 6 January. This followed a letter signed by several NGOs including Reprieve, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch asking the Inquiry to rethink its terms and procedures:
On 12 January, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keir Starmer QC, announced that criminal investigations into the complicity of an intelligence service officer in the torture of Binyam Mohamed and another separate case concerning a prisoner elsewhere would not continue and there will be no prosecutions, due to a lack of evidence, in spite of the seriousness of the allegations.
At the same time, however, they announced that a criminal investigation would be held into the allegations of British intelligence complicity in the rendition to Libya of Abdul Hakim Belhadj and his family and Sami Al-Saadi. Both men who started proceedings to sue the government for its complicity in November are said to be pleased to cooperate with this criminal inquiry. The CPS also announced that it had set up a panel to consider other serious complaints, including one made by Shaker Aamer; officers may seek to question him about it at Guantánamo Bay. Shaker Aamer alleges that a British intelligence officer was present throughout while he was being abused during an interrogation at Bagram. A former Algerian prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, who had lived in the UK, Ahcene Zemeri, has made similar claims and these too will be investigated.
Those to be interviewed by the police as part of these criminal inquiries may include former ministers, such as Jack Straw, and senior civil servants and intelligence officers.
The announcement of the new criminal inquiries and the suspension of the earlier inquiries called into question how much of a delay this would constitute to the proceedings of the Gibson (Detainee) Inquiry; the inquiry cannot start while there are ongoing criminal inquiries into similar matters. As a consequence, on 19 January, the Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke announced in the House of Commons that the Detainee would not be going ahead but that the government is still committed to a judge-led inquiry into the allegations of abuse once these criminal inquiries are concluded. The Detainee Inquiry has been subject to considerable criticism; most of the individuals making the complaints it was to investigate, their lawyers and human rights NGOs had already withdrawn from its proceedings. Nonetheless, an investigation into these matters – one that is effective, transparent, comprehensive and offers remedies to the victims – is vital. As the inquiry has started its preliminary work, it will provide a report of its findings thus far to parliament in due course.

As part of ongoing negotiations between the US and Afghan governments, including concerning the repatriation of Afghan nationals held at Guantánamo Bay, the Afghan president Hamid Karzai has demanded that control of Bagram be handed over to the Afghan authorities. In considering this, the US administration is currently considering releasing the 50 or so non-Afghan nationals (out of a prison population of 2400+) currently held at Bagram, who are mostly Pakistani and Arab. This also comes further to an order by the High Court in London that Pakistani prisoner Yunus Rahmatullah, held without charge or trial since 2004, must be returned to British custody by 14 February. He is likely to be one of the first prisoners to be released.

LGC Activities:
To mark the 10th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay, the London Guantánamo Campaign held a rally on Saturday 7 January at 2-4pm in Trafalgar Square, “Shut Guantánamo – End 10 Years of Shame”, organised with the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, the Stop The War Coalition and the Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament: A few hundred people joined the rally and a prisoner parade to represent each of the remaining 171 prisoners was held.

On 11 January, the actual anniversary date, the LGC delivered a petition to the US Embassy, signed by over 400 people, demanding the closure of Guantánamo Bay and the release and return to the UK of prisoners Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha.

On 3 February, at 6-8pm, the LGC will mark the fifth anniversary of its regular “Shut Down Guantánamo!” protest outside the US Embassy with a candlelight vigil. We will be joined by a performance from The Rendition Monologues by Actors for Human Rights and actor Sergio Amigo reading poems by Guantánamo prisoners.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Shut Down Guantánamo! - Candlelight Vigil to Mark Fifth Anniversary of Protest, 3 February

Friday 3 February. 6-8pm, outside the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE (nearest underground: Bond Street/ Marble Arch)
A decade since the arrival of the first twenty inmates at Guantánamo Bay, the campaign to close the extra-legal US military prison and torture camp is far from over.
In February 2007, the London Guantánamo Campaign began a regular presence outside the US embassy in Mayfair, calling for the return of the eight British residents still being held indefinitely at the US naval base on an occupied corner of Cuba, and for the closure of this legal black hole. Six of the men have since been released, all but one of them to the UK.
Five years on, the prison camp is still open and two British residents remain: Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha. Over that period, we have held weekly - for the first year and a half - and then monthly demonstrations, which continue to this day. These have included special actions, such as in solidarity with accused Wikileaks whistleblower Private Bradley Manning and other US prisoners, with Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr during his military tribunal, and to mark the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.
To mark our five years of witness, we will hold a special two-hour candlelight vigil on Friday 3 February, 6-8pm. Please join us.
We will have some special performances from 6.30-7.30pm, including:
- Actors for Human Rights, performing from the Rendition Monologues- Sergio Amigo, actor / performer, reading poems by the prisoners
If you are a spoken word artist and would like to contribute, please get in touch.
Facebook event:
All are welcome. For more details, e-mail or call 07809 757 176

Report of the very first demonstration in February 2007:

The Campaign to Close Guantánamo Bay Goes On...

Earlier this month, Guantánamo Bay marked its tenth year as an illegal detention and torture prison, where 171 prisoners still remain, largely without charge or trial. In spite of the recent setback posed by the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012 by President Obama, effectively keeping Guantánamo Bay open and extending its regime of arbitrary detention indefinitely, the campaign to close Guantánamo Bay is very much alive, all over the world, and it needs YOUR support.

Wherever you are, join in local actions, start your own and see the list of actions (petitions/write to your political representative) below you can take from the comfort of your armchair/desk!

If you are in London, please join us for some of the following actions in February:
3rd February: 6-8pm: Candlelight vigil outside the US Embassy, London, to mark 5 years of the London Guantánamo Campaign’s regular “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demo With performers and poets, including Actors for Human Rights performing from The Rendition Monologues and actor Sergio Amigo reading poems by Guantánamo prisoners

11th February: Guantánamo Chain Gang: Free Shaker Aamer (to mark Shaker’s 10th year in Guantánamo): ASSEMBLE 12 NOON outside NORTHCOTE RD BAPTIST CHURCH, NORTHCOTE RD, LONDON SW11 6DB – organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign
Walking slowly in chains through the streets of Battersea and Clapham Junction to a rally at the Battersea Islamic Culture and Education Centre, Falcon Road, SW11 2PF

14th February: Guantánamo Chain Gang at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, W1A, 2pm – organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign
On Tuesday 14 February, Shaker will have been in Guantanamo for 10 years. Please join us at the US Embassy, London, to hand in cards and petitions for President Obama.
Banners, drums and noise welcome.
More details:

Online actions you can take:
- Get your MP to sign EDM 2558 tabled by Caroline Lucas MP to mark the 10th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay:
Send a short e-mail/letter to your MP (find their contact details at reminding them that Guantánamo Bay has been open for 10 years now and is no closer to closure and two British residents, Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha, remain there, both held for over 10 years without charge or trial
- Sign Amnesty International’s petition:
- Sign the following e-petition to the White House asking President Obama to close Guantánamo and make good on the promise he made over three years ago to close it:!/petition/close-guantanamo-now/6cMPlxQw If more then 25,000 signatures are received by 6 February, a response is guaranteed by the US government

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Media release: Campaigners demand Guantánamo closure on tenth anniversary of prison

MEDIA RELEASE: Campaigners demand Guantánamo closure on tenth anniversary of prison
To coincide with the tenth anniversary of the opening of the illegal detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, activists from the London Guantánamo Campaign [1] will deliver a petition [2] to the US Embassy in London demanding that President Obama fulfil his earlier promises to close Guantánamo Bay and release former British residents, Shaker Aamer [3] and Ahmed Belbacha [4] to the UK. The petition has been signed by around 400 people and will be delivered to the embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, this afternoon.

Aisha Maniar, from the London Guantánamo Campaign, said: “President Obama has chosen to mark the tenth anniversary of Guantánamo, which he once considered a “misguided experiment” [5] by perpetuating the lawless regime of detention there, without charge or trial, through provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act 2012 [6]. Once considered part of the disastrous legacy of his predecessor, George Bush, President Obama has made this “experiment” state policy. Similarly, President Clinton before him made extraordinary rendition state policy in the 1990s.

As the United States gears up for presidential elections later this year, it is hard to forget the dashed hopes of the world in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s complete backtracking on his pledge to close Guantánamo Bay by 2010 and end military tribunals. Instead, hardly any prisoners have been released, a minor has been tried for war crimes and the closure of Guantánamo and other similar facilities is ever more distant.

Through their collusion, other states, including the United Kingdom, have some responsibility to bear in aiding its closure. In the case of the British government, it must do more to secure the immediate release of Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha, formerly resident in the UK.”

Contact: e-mail / tel. 07809 757 176

1. The London Guantánamo Campaign 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.

2. The text of the petition, launched in late September 2011, can be read at:

3. Shaker Aamer was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. He claims to have been tortured repeatedly during his time in US custody, on one occasion in the presence of a British intelligence agent. He has a British wife and four children living in Battersea, south London. He has never met his youngest son, who is almost 10 years old. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought his release in August 2007, along with four other residents held at Guantánamo Bay, the last of whom was released in February 2009. His lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, has recently expressed grave concerns for his physical and mental health due to prolonged arbitrary detention.

4. Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001, was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Never charged or tried, he was free to leave but has remained at Guantánamo Bay for want of a safe third country to return to. A court injunction in the USA has prevented his forced return to Algeria.



Monday, January 09, 2012

“Shut Guantánamo - End Ten Years of Shame” – Public Rally, London, 7 January 2012, Report

“Shut Guantánamo - End Ten Years of Shame” – Public Rally, London, 7 January 2012, Report
By Aisha Maniar, London Guantánamo Campaign

Protest Rally in London:
On Saturday 7 January, the weekend before the tenth anniversary of the opening of the illegal prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, over 200 people from London and other parts of the UK converged outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to mark this unfortunate day in history and to stand in solidarity with the 171 prisoners who remain there. Organised by the London Guantánamo Campaign (LGC), the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (SSAC), the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the rally started with journalist Victoria Brittain reading a couple of poems written by former detainees on their experiences at the prison and their feelings on the injustice they have faced.

Leading human rights solicitor Louise Christian, who represented several of the British men who have been held there, expressed her shock that there are still 171 prisoners a decade on. She described the moment when her clients were reunited with their families as one of the most moving experiences in her legal career. Ms Christian criticised the British government’s failure to reunite British resident Shaker Aamer with his family in south London. She said that this situation cannot go on; it sends a signal to the world that the US and the UK governments do not care. It is a “shame on us all” that Guantánamo is still open and we need to do everything we can to get it closed.

London MEPs Baroness Sarah Ludford (Liberal Democrat) and Jean Lambert (Green) provided political support to the campaigners. Ms Ludford described the failure to close Guantánamo “a complete disgrace” and a “disappointment”. She said that it was disappointing that there was still no full truth over European collusion in extraordinary rendition and torture; this involvement undermines the European Union principles of democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law. She called for accountability as a necessary first step to “cleaning the stables before we can say “never again” as Europe has done in its past history”. Ms Ludford and Ms Lambert asserted their commitment to continue pushing this issue at the European level to seek accountability for European involvement and have member states accept prisoners. The two MEPs will jointly co-host a meeting at the European Parliament later this month to revisit and update work on European accountability in this matter. Ms Lambert also mentioned the “dangerous proposals” currently being put forth in a government green paper on justice and security by the Home Office which would effectively allow provisions for the use of secret evidence to be rolled out in all civil cases and prevent the cases for disclosure in collusion brought by former Guantánamo prisoners. A statement was also read out on behalf of Green MP Caroline Lucas, who was unable to attend (statement below).

Both MEPs expressed their solidarity with the family of Shaker Aamer and called on the government to take immediate action over his case to bring him back to his family in London. Other speakers, including Kate Hudson from the CND, Aaron Kiely from the National Union of Students (NUS), Steve Bell from the Communication Workers Union (CWU). Other speakers included Lindsey German from the StWC, Joy Hurcombe from the SSAC and Shaun Brown from the LGC. Criticism was also made of the Obama administration’s recent approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012, with Steve Bell describing it as “extending the Guantánamo principle to US citizens”, Jean Lambert called it a “rewriting of international law” and Shaun Brown said it “made indefinite detention lawful”.

Cortney Busch from the human rights NGO Reprieve said that the NDAA meant that prisoners may never have the chance to go home to their families. She described being held for ten years without charge or trial in arbitrary conditions as tantamount to torture. She urged the public to keep putting the pressure on governments and to write to the prisoners to keep their spirits up. Lighter entertainment was provider by poet Pete The Temp.

Halfway through the speeches, the LGC organised a visual display to represent the 171 prisoners still held at the prison. Volunteers played the role of prisoners: dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, they held up placards with the prisoners’ numbers on them and stepped forward as the names behind the numbers were read out. This part of the action was both visually stunning and a poignant reminder of the very real people caught up in this tragedy.

Ten years on with no prospect of closure in sight, the campaign to close Guantánamo is not over either. In spite of the setback posed by recent legal changes in the United States, the almost impossibility for prisoners to leave the prison alive at present and the insistence on secrecy by governments the world over in their collusion, there have also been positive revelations over the past year, such as the court case in the United States revealing corporate involvement in torture flights, including by a company owned by Liverpool FC co-owner Philip Morse ( and revelations by Human Rights Watch about British collusion with the US in rendition to Libya (, among others. The fight for justice must and will go on. It is clear that over the past ten years, politicians across the world have largely failed to provide more than verbal assurances and condemnation. With a similar action held in Canada on the same date and actions ongoing in the United States and more planned for this coming week all over the world, it is up to ordinary people to say enough is enough.

Actions you can take:
- To mark the tenth anniversary, on Wednesday 11 January, the LGC will deliver a petition to the US Embassy in London calling for the return of Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha to the UK and the closure of Guantánamo. There are still two more days for you to add your name (and comment) to the petition:
- Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion) has tabled a new early day motion (EDM) on Guantánamo Bay to coincide with the tenth anniversary. Please ask your MP to sign the motion to register their disapproval of Guantánamo Bay – this week, it’s also a good way of reminding them of this anniversary:
- Sign Amnesty International’s global petition to President Obama:

Guantánamo: Ten Years On:
The notorious illegal prison camp and potent symbol of injustice that is Guantánamo Bay hits ten on Wednesday 11 January 2012. Opened in 2002 to hold prisoners captured in Afghanistan, the regime at Guantánamo Bay has somehow managed consistently to avoid falling within established norms and practices of international law, such as complying with the Geneva Convention, the UN Convention Against Torture and even the United States constitution.

In spite of widespread international condemnation – even Tony Blair called it an “anomaly” and a European commissioner recently called the failure to close it a “shame” – this has not translated into the closure of the facility or the safe release of prisoners; a decade on, 171 prisoners remain, most held for this entire period without charge or trial.

President Obama was once among those critics dubbing it a “misguided experiment”; a promise to close Guantánamo Bay and bring the US back into line with international law featured prominently in his presidential election campaign in 2008. Having won the presidency, one of his first pledges was signed to close Guantánamo by January 2010. That clearly did not happen and during his first term as president, Barack Obama has completely reneged on all the promises he made with his administration reinstating military tribunals, preventing prisoner transfers (hardly any prisoners have been released over the past three years) and most recently, he marked Guantánamo’s first decade by signing the National Defense Authorization Act 2012, a defence spending bill with provisions to perpetuate the regime of detention without charge and trial and keep Guantánamo open for many years to come, as well as the possibility of new inmates. In addition to this, in Obama’s first term, Bagram prison in Afghanistan, where most of the prisoners were first held and abused before being taken to Guantánamo over ten years ago, has quadrupled in size.

Guantánamo at ten:
Amnesty International Report: “Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights”:
Human Rights Watch: “Guantánamo Ten Years On”:

British residents in Guantánamo Bay:
The British government maintains that it has done more than its European counterparts by ensuring the safe release and return to the UK of over a dozen British nationals and residents over the past decade. Nonetheless, and despite official denial otherwise, the government was aware of the treatment of British prisoners at Bagram and their transfer to Guantánamo before it even happened. Two men with ties to Britain remain at Guantánamo Bay: Shaker Aamer, a 46-year old Saudi national who lived with his British wife and children in London. Although the government called for his return five years ago, it is unclear why he remains at Guantánamo after so long, having never been charged or tried.
The LGC also maintains that the British government should seek the return to the UK of former British resident Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001. He was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Mr Belbacha fears for his life if forcibly returned to Algeria (an injunction currently prevents this), and remains at Guantánamo awaiting the offer of a safe home.

Statement by Caroline Lucas MP: I am sorry that I cannot be with you today to mark the 10 shameful years that Shaker Aamer has been detained – unlawfully – in Guantanamo Bay.
His incarceration and that of others – present and past – remains a stain on the US’s reputation and is a grievous abuse of precious human rights.
We know from recent reports that Shaker’s health is deteriorating and that he is ‘gradually dying in Guantanamo Bay’. For Shaker to die in the illegal custody of the United States would be an unspeakable travesty. We must not let this happen.
It would also seriously affect our country’s reputation of standing up for its citizens abroad. That’s why I have repeatedly called on the Foreign Secretary to increase efforts to secure Shaker’s release – and to close down Guantanamo. William Hague has told me that he pressed Shaker’s case with Hillary Clinton most recently on December 12th and that UK and US officials hold regular discussions on Mr Aamer's case, both in London and from the British embassy in Washington. But every single day that passes is a day too long as far as Shaker’s family and friends are concerned – as the 10th anniversary of his detention approaches we must convince the Government to act with even greater urgency.
The Foreign Secretary also says that Shaker’s release remains a matter for the US authorities. That is true enough. But let’s not forget that so called special relationship Britain is meant to enjoy with the US. And let’s remember Barak Obama’s promise to the world that he would make the closure of Guantanamo Bay a priority – his pledge to do the right thing. The UK has a responsibility to make sure Shaker is not forgotten and to hold the US fully to account for its treatment of UK residents and citizens – and that is very much a matter for the UK authorities.
The Green Party wants to applaud the Save Shaker Aamer campaign, the London Guantanamo Campaign and others for their tireless efforts to keep this case in the public eye and on the political agenda. Please be assured of our ongoing support and commitment to bringing Shaker home and to making sure that others do not suffer the same fate in future.
Thank you.

Media on the action:
Also, picture in Daily Mail article on Afghanistan:

London Guantánamo Campaign
Also at:

Newsletter - December 2011

Guantánamo Bay:
Amnesty International issued a new report “Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights” looking back on ten years of Guantánamo Bay and the impact the regime of illegal detention and abuse has had on the protection of human rights worldwide.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2012), authorising defence spending in the USA for the coming year, became law at the end of December after it was signed by President Obama. After almost ten years of the regime of detention without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay and other similar prisons around the world, the US government has decided to bring this regime home and legalise indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay and beyond, including the US mainland, through an incredibly broad definition of persons deemed to be at war with the United States and what that covers, including US citizens at home and abroad as well, and privileging military detention for prisoners. Although President Obama signed it with “reservations”, particularly as concerns the detention of US citizens, its broad scope could result in questionable applications by future governments. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) considers it to be unconstitutional and illegal.
For more on this news:

Extraordinary rendition:
The location of a secret CIA-run prison in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, has been discovered following an investigation by the German media. Former CIA operatives identified the location in a suburb of the city which had previously been used by the Romanian secret services. The prison is alleged to have held victims of extraordinary rendition including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh. The facility was reported to have been used between 2002 and 2006. The Council of Europe, which has investigated allegations of such prisons in Europe, welcomed the news but it has been denied by the Romanian government and the CIA.
More on this news:

On 14 December, the human rights NGO Reprieve won an important case in the Court of Appeal in which the British government was ordered to seek the release of a man held at Bagram without charge or trial since 2004. Yunus Rahmatullah, a Pakistani national, was arrested by British troops in Iraq in February 2004. He was handed over to the US army which “rendered” him to Bagram, where he has been held ever since and has never been charged. In spite of having the power to do so and complicit in his rendition, the British government has consistently refused to help him, refusing at first even to confirm his identity to his family. He has had sporadic communication with his family via the Red Cross and has only recently been able to communicate with them by telephone. His physical and mental health is reported to have deteriorated considerably during his detention. Reprieve brought a “habeas corpus” petition (that he should be tried or released) at the High Court in London to have the government ordered to seek his release by the US military, which it has the power to do under various agreements with the American government and international law. The court agreed that the government had no duty to Mr Rahmatullah at first but Reprieve won on appeal. The British government had seven days following the judgment to seek his release or appeal against the decision. The government accepted the decision and wrote to the US government seeking his release to British custody so that he can be released. Under a memorandum of understanding signed by the UK and the US, Britain can seek Mr Rahmatullah’s release, and that of any prisoner handed over, at any time. The court has given the government until 18 January to secure his release and it remains to be seen whether the American side will comply with its side of the agreement. If the US does not comply, Britain will be in breach of the Geneva Conventions and British officials will be subject to war crimes prosecution.
This ruling by the Court of Appeal is of significance as it is the first time that a civilian court anywhere has been able to secure some form of justice for prisoners at Bagram, whose inmates remain in a far worse condition than prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.
For more on Yunus Rahmatullah, this case and the judgment:

LGC Activities:
Four people joined the December Shut Down Guantánamo! demonstration on Friday 2 December. Please note that there is NO monthly demonstration in January.

Please join the London Guantánamo Campaign on Saturday 7 January at 2-4pm on the north side of Trafalgar Square (outside the National Gallery) for the “Shut Guantánamo – End 10 Years of Shame” demonstration organised with the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, the Stop The War Coalition and the Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament:

Please sign the London Guantánamo Campaign’s e-petition to the US Ambassador to London which we intend to deliver on 11 January 2012 addressed to the US ambassador to the UK calling for the return of Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha to the UK and the closure of Guantánamo Bay. Please add your name (and comments, if you wish) and ask your friends and family to do as well.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

MEDIA RELEASE: Shut Guantánamo – End 10 Years of Shame - Public Rally, Saturday 7 January, 2-4pm, Trafalgar Square

MEDIA RELEASE: Shut Guantánamo – End 10 Years of Shame - Public Rally, Saturday 7 January, 2-4pm, Trafalgar Square

Shut Guantánamo – End 10 Years of Shame

6 January 2012 - For immediate release

Photo opportunity: At around 3pm, activists dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods will perform a visual display representing the 171 prisoners who remain at Guantánamo.

This Saturday, 7 January, the weekend before the tenth anniversary of the opening of the illegal US military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay on 11 January 2002, a public rally is to be held at Trafalgar Square (North Terrace, outside the National Gallery), organised by the London Guantánamo Campaign (LGC), Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (SSAC), Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) [1].

Speakers will include Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP (Lib Dem), Louise Christian (solicitor), Lindsey German (StWC), Kate Hudson (CND) and Victoria Brittain (journalist) [2].

Aisha Maniar, from the LGC, said:

Ten years of Guantánamo Bay are ten years of wasted opportunities to close down this notorious symbol of lawlessness and injustice in our time.

“President Obama has completed his U-turn on earlier pledges to close Guantánamo and end the discredited military commissions with his recent signing into law of the National Defense Authorization Act, perpetuating the regime of arbitrary detention without charge or trial.

“The United States and its allies must share responsibility for the closure of Guantánamo Bay: the UK government must step up its efforts to secure the return of British resident Shaker Aamer [3] and also offer a safe home to former British resident Ahmed Belbacha [4]. Other European Union states must also step up their efforts to help close Guantánamo Bay and take concrete action to put an end to this “shame”[5].

“We will nonetheless keep up the pressure on governments to take firm action and to seek justice for the prisoners held at Guantánamo.”

Tel: 07809 757 176

1. The London Guantánamo Campaign 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.
Save Shaker Aamer Campaign:
Stop the War Coalition:
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament:

2. Full list of confirmed speakers: Baroness Sarah Ludford (Liberal Democrat MEP), Louise Christian (solicitor), Cortney Busch (Reprieve), Lindsey German (StWC), Kate Hudson (CND), Victoria Brittain (journalist), Joy Hurcombe (SSAC), Shaun Brown (LGC), Kanja Sesay (National Union of Students), Steve Bell (Communication Workers Union), Pete the Temp (poet).

3. Shaker Aamer was cleared for release by the US military in 2007, and by Obama’s administration in 2009. He claims to have been tortured repeatedly during his time in US custody, on one occasion in the presence of a British intelligence agent. He has a British wife and four children living in Battersea, south London. He has never met his youngest son, who is almost 10 years old. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought Mr Aamer’s release in August 2007, along with four other British residents then held at Guantánamo Bay , the last of whom, Binyam Mohamed, was released in February 2009. Mr Aamer’s lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, has recently expressed grave concerns for his physical and mental health.

4. Ahmed Belbacha is an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001. He was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Mr Belbacha fears for his life if forcibly returned to Algeria (an injunction currently prevents this), and remains at Guantánamo awaiting the offer of a safe home.

5. On 9 September 2010 , Cecilia Malmstroem, the European Union’s home affairs commissioner, called the US government’s failure to close Guantánamo Bay “a shame”.