Monday, April 28, 2014

LGC Newsletter - April 2014

British residents:
April "Shut Guantánamo" demo at Marble Arch
Lawyers for Shaker Aamer commissioned a medical evaluation to ascertain the extent of the medical and psychological suffering he has endured through 12 years of torture and indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay. The report, which shows that Aamer is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and psychiatric symptoms related to his confinement that could cause further worsening of his physical and mental health, prompted his lawyers to file an application in the US courts on 8 April to release him on the grounds of ill-health. Shaker Aamer has been cleared for release twice and has never been charged or tried.

A new petition has been put together calling on US Attorney General Eric Holder to release Shaker Aamer to his family in the UK. You can add your name here:

Guantánamo Bay:
When pre-trial hearings into the alleged involvement of 5 Guantánamo prisoners in terrorist attacks in New York in September 2001 resumed for the first time this year, the hearing was abruptly halted by the judge following allegations that the FBI spied on client-lawyer confidentiality and had placed an informant among the defence counsel. The hearing has now been set back to June 2014.

At the same time, pre-trial hearings have continued in the case of Yemeni Abd Al-Nashiri, accused of attacks on US navy vessels in the Arabian Gulf in 2000. Prior to the resumption of hearings in this case, the judge in the case ordered the CIA to release details – names, dates and places – to Al-Nashiri’s defence lawyers of the time he spent in CIA secret prisons between his arrest in 2002 and his transfer to Guantánamo Bay in 2006.
An expert testifying in his case, Dr Sondra Crosby, stated that Nashiri had been physically, sexually and psychologically tortured in her statement and that he had not received adequate treatment for the trauma he had suffered at Guantánamo Bay. She stated: ““He suffers from chronic pain. He suffers from anal-rectal complaints,” she said. Also, “difficulty defecating, hemorrhoids, pain in sitting for a long time,” which she said are typical of “survivors of sexual assault.”
Al-Nashiri has scars on his wrists, legs, ankles “consistent with the allegations and history that he gave me.” And he suffers from wide mood swings — from “irritability, anger, extreme emotional intensity to silence” — that are “red flags” of trauma and torture
Extraordinarily, the court also sat in session on Sunday 27 April to hear the testimony of his psychiatrist via video link:

On 8 April, Yemeni Ghaleb Nassar al-Bihani became the fourth prisoner to appear before the Periodic Review Board to determine whether he should be cleared for release. His lawyers have said he would be happy to be sent to a third country, if not Yemen.
On 25 April, the Review Board cleared another Yemeni prisoner, Ali Ahmad al-Razihi, for release and transfer to Yemen, although no Yemenis have been released since Barack Obama lifted a moratorium preventing cleared prisoners from returning to the country since 2010.

Former Canadian prisoner Omar Khadr, who had surgery last month to a shoulder injury he sustained in Afghanistan in 2002 has returned to the medium-security Bowden Institute where he was transferred earlier this year and has resumed his studies. He has an appeal hearing on 30 April at the Alberta Court of Appeal following a decision last year not to transfer him to a provincial prison, where he would have better rehabilitation facilities; his lawyers argue that it is illegal for him to be held in a maximum-security facility given that his crimes were allegedly committed as a minor and his sentence must reflect that.

A 45-year old US soldier faced a court martial on 3 April at Guantánamo Bay on charges of sexual harassment and rape of female junior soldiers under his command while serving there. He admitted sexual harassment and having sexual relations with them, but denied rape. He also admitted having lied to investigators looking into the matter. He faces at least a 15-year sentence for the offences he has admitted to. The offences are alleged to have taken place in 2012 and 2013.

Extraordinary Rendition
On 3 April, the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee voted to release a 6000-page report it compiled, completed several years ago, into the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme, at a cost of over $40 million. The report details the torture of a number of victims of the programme and is said to contain shocking new information about the programme and its brutality, however it is likely to be many months before any part of it is disclosed and will now be handed to the CIA for it to remove “sensitive” parts of the document. It is likely that only a redacted version of an executive summary of the report, consisting of several hundred pages will be made public. The content of the report could impact on various ongoing court cases involving victims, including military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay. In at least one case, lawyers have asked to see the secret report to aid their defence case. Nonetheless, the actual ramifications and possible new information made public by the disclosure of any parts of the report remain to be seen.

LGC Activities:
The April “Shut Guantánamo!” demonstration was attended by 6 people. The May
demonstration will be at the regular time of 12-1pm outside the US Embassy and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch on Thursday 1st May:  

As part of a global day of action to mark the anniversary of Barack Obama’s latest pledge to take action to close Guantánamo Bay and transfer the prisoners, the LGC will hold a demonstration a 12-2pm in Trafalgar Square (north side, outside the National Gallery). All are welcome to join us. Placards and orange jumpsuits provided, although not mandatory and you are welcome to bring your own