Saturday, January 05, 2013

LGC Newsletter – December 2012

British Residents:
Shaker Aamer has launched a defamation action against the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6 for making “knowingly false statements” to the US military about him. These include allegations that he is a member of Al Qaeda and helped to recruit people to fight in Afghanistan. The action was announced by Reprieve, the legal charity representing Shaker Aamer, and comedian Frankie Boyle, who put up the money to bring the case from a libel case he had won earlier against a newspaper and had donated to Reprieve. The government has not commented on the case.
Earlier this month, it was announced that officers from Scotland Yard will go to Guantánamo Bay to question Mr Aamer about allegations of abuse and torture he has made against the British intelligence services which are currently being investigated by the Metropolitan police:
Guantánamo Bay:
Amnesty Canada has launched a new campaign for former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr who was returned to the country in September 2012, where he was promptly sent back to prison and is awaiting parole. Omar Khadr continues to be held in solitary confinement with limited access to other prisoners and facilities. Having spent all of his adult life thus far at Guantánamo Bay, he is finding it hard to adapt to life outside, a task not facilitated by his continuing imprisonment. Take action for Omar Khadr:
The US military has stated the official cause of death of Yemeni prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif who died in September 2012 is suicide. His body was recently repatriated to Yemen and there has been much controversy over the possible cause of his death following over a decade of abuse. Claiming his death to be caused by substance abuse, the US military also claimed that he was suffering from acute pneumonia at the time of death. Earlier in the month, investigative journalists Jason Leopold and Jeff Kaye from Truth Out unveiled further facts surrounding the death of Mr Abdul Latif and contradictions in the official story about his death:
Extraordinary rendition:
On 13 December, the government announced that it had reached a £2.2 million settlement with the family of Sami Al-Saadi, one of two Libyan men whose rendition to torture in Libya it had facilitated in 2004. The pay-out ends the family’s litigation against the UK authorities; however, the family of another man, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, are continuing their action against the government. Mr Al-Saadi, his wife and four children were forcedly rendered from Hong Kong to Libya where they were detained and tortured. Although the settlement means that the government has not made an admission of liability, the settlement is tantamount to an admission of guilt. Mr Al-Saadi made the following statement about why he decided to settle: “My family suffered enough when they were kidnapped and flown to Gaddafi’s Libya. They will now have the chance to complete their education in the new, free Libya. I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison.
“I started this process believing that a British trial would get to the truth in my case. But today, with the government trying to push through secret courts, I feel that to proceed is not best for my family. I went through a secret trial once before, in Gaddafi’s Libya. In many ways, it was as bad as the torture. It is not an experience I care to repeat.
“Even now, the British government has never given an answer to the simple question: ‘Were you involved in the kidnap of me, my wife and my children?’” [Source: Reprieve]
Speaking one day before the Justice and Security Bill was debated in the House of Commons, Chichester Conservative MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extradition Rendition made the following statement in a press release:
“For over six years, the APPG has been trying to get to the truth about alleged British complicity in the kidnap and torture of detainees. We still don’t know it. Mr al-Saadi’s case highlights the need to hold a full judge-led inquiry as soon as possible. Only then can we draw a line and move on.
This is the sort of case that could be caught by the secret courts provisions of the Justice and Security Bill. In the future, if the Bill comes into effect unamended, a person suing the Government for his rendition and torture could be shut out of his own case. So would the lawyers for the claimant, the press, and the public. Any evidence deemed damaging to national security would require the case to be heard in secret. The judge would only hear the Government’s evidence and the claimant wouldn’t be able to challenge it. The claimant wouldn’t know why he or she won or lost; what allegations were made against him; or what case was made on his behalf by the Special Advocate. This flies in the face of the fundamental principles of our legal system and is unacceptable.”
On 13 December, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg unanimously found Macedonia guilty of involvement in the torture, abuse and illegal imprisonment of German rendition victim Khaled El Masri. In its judgment, the court condemned the use of torture and rendition by the CIA and called the extraordinary rendition programme “torture” for the first time. El Masri has also unsuccessfully tried to bring actions against other states involved in his torture. On holiday in 2003, he was kidnapped at Skopje airport in Macedonia, tortured there for almost a month, before being taken to Afghanistan for several months where the abuse continued. When the Americans realised they had the wrong man, he was released by the road side in Albania and told that no one would believe him if he told them of his ordeal. However, the European Court found Mr El Masri’s claims to be founded “beyond reasonable doubt” and ordered Macedonia to pay him 60,000 euros in compensation in this landmark legal ruling.
LGC Activities:
The December monthly LGC demonstration was a special demonstration to mark Human Rights Day on 10 December. Around 20 people joined in a reading of articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There will be NO monthly demonstration in January due to the anniversary event on 11 January.
The LGC invites you get involved in our action to mark the 11th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay on Friday 11 January 2013. For more details on what we are planning and how you can get involved:!/2012/11/your-invitation-to-join-us-to-mark-11.html Please join us if you can. You can also follow our progress and get involved via Facebook: @allroadsleadG11 and Tumblr:
Aisha Maniar from the London Guantánamo Campaign will be speaking on Monday 7th January 2013 at 7.30pm at a Brent Stop The War meeting, "All Roads Lead to Guantánamo" about the latest challenges for President Obama, soon to be reinaugurated, with respect to Guantánamo and upcoming actions to mark the eleventh anniversary. All welcome. The meeting is at Rumi's Cave, 26 Willesden Lane, NW6 7ST (nearest underground: Kilburn). For more details, e-mail

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