Friday, August 31, 2012

LGC Newsletter – August 2012

British Residents:The Metropolitan Police, following a joint decision with the Crown Prosecution Service, announced that it will investigate claims that British agents were involved in the torture of Shaker Aamer. This could involve detectives seeking permission from the US authorities to interview Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo Bay about allegations he made to his lawyers. British intelligence agents are alleged to have been present and attended interrogations fully aware that Mr Aamer had been tortured.

Guantánamo Bay:
The Egyptian government has formally demanded the release of the last Egyptian prisoner held at Guantánamo Bay. Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed al-Sawah, 54, was charged with material support for terrorism and conspiracy in 2008 but those charges were dropped earlier this year without trial. During his time at Guantánamo Bay, his captors have considered him a co-operative prisoner who provided them with information about other prisoners. The new Egyptian government has in particular expressed concerns about his health following almost 11 years of abuse and illegal detention.

Pre-trial hearings for five men accused of involvement in the 11 September attacks in New York in 2001, including Khaled Sheikh Mohamed, which were initially set back from early to late August, so as not to clash with the Muslim month of fasting Ramadan, have now been set back to mid-October. The hearing, set for 22 August, was delayed by one day, following a train derailment near Baltimore which damaged the fibre optic cable linked to the US government’s computer system on the island, which meant that the prosecution was unable to access e-mails and electronic legal documents to prepare its case. It was then postponed again as Hurricane Isaac headed for the Caribbean. The hurricane battered the island of Cuba on the weekend of 25-26 August and prisoners who are housed in secured structures were moved to safer premises. Media, human rights observers and victims’ families attending the hearing were all evacuated.

Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi, a 37-year old Saudi prisoner, has been charged, more than 10 years later, with training with Al-Qaeda and plotting to attack oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and Yemen. The attacks he is alleged to have helped prepare took place in 2000 and 2002. He faces 6 charges and if tried, will be brought before a military tribunal. Facing the possibility of a life sentence, if he enters a plea bargain with the US military, his testimony could be used against Abdul Rahim Al-Nashiri, accused of masterminding attacks against the US in Yemen and a fellow prisoner who faces the death penalty if convicted. Evidence against the latter was obtained from waterboarding and other forms of torture.
Extraordinary rendition:
Investigators in Poland, looking into the country’s alleged role in extraordinary rendition and operation of secret torture jails for the CIA have extended their investigation until February 2013. Reasons were not given, however Polish journalists have recently claimed to have found records of at least 7 CIA planes landing at a Polish military base in 2002 and 2003.

LGC Activities:
The August “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demonstration was held on 2nd August and was attended by 3 people. The September demonstration will be held on Thursday 6 September at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park (opposite Marble Arch).