Muslim engineer’s access to nuclear sites suspended

August 18, 2014

In March 2014 the head of an engineering project, employed by a subcontractor of the EDF, was refused access to nuclear sites at the nuclear center in Nogent-sur-Seine “without any apparent reason” by the city’s prefecture. The 29 year-old engineer had previously received access in 2012 and 2013.

However, in March the prefecture decided otherwise and suspended his access. The action required no justification as a matter of national “defense.” With no explanation given, the lawyers of the Collective Against Islamophobia are attempting to get an answer. “My client was authorized for three years to enter nuclear sites. The big question is: what changed? From one day to the next, he was suspected of I don’t know what,” argued the client’s lawyer Sefen Guez Guez. He does not exclude an act of Islamophobia from the potential list of reasons. “Given the surrounding context, his religious practices were perhaps disturbing,” he added.

In June, Guez Guez brought the complaint to the administrative court of Chalons-en-Champagne which honored the complaint, saying that there was “serious doubt about the decision’s legality.” The judge reinstated the engineer’s access and allowed the man to return to the nuclear sites.

Less than a month later the EDF again denied the plaintiff access and his case returned to court. The decision concerning future access to nuclear sites will be released at the end of August. “My client is confident. He has never made any errors, he’s a future father, he has no criminal record, he has no problems with the company,” affirmed his lawyer.

While waiting for the decision, the engineer can only complete administrative tasks. “He’s in a closet and he wants to return to work as it was before,” said Guez Guez. “It’s like Guantanamo! How can someone lose his job without being able to defend himself, without knowing what’s happening?”

Debate stirs over US-Taliban captive swap

June 2, 2014

WASHINGTON — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can expect a buoyant homecoming after five years in Taliban hands, but those in the government who worked for his release face mounting questions over the prisoner swap that won his freedom.

Even in the first hours of Bergdahl’s handoff to U.S. special forces in eastern Afghanistan, it was clear this would not be an uncomplicated yellow-ribbon celebration. Five terrorist suspects also walked free, stirring a debate in Washington over whether the exchange will heighten the risk of other Americans being snatched as bargaining chips and whether the released detainees — several senior Taliban figures among them — would find their way back to the fight.

U.S. officials said Sunday that Bergdahl’s health and safety appeared in jeopardy, prompting rapid action to secure his release. “Had we waited and lost him,” said national security adviser Susan Rice, “I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”

And in Kabul Monday, the Afghan Foreign Ministry called the swap “against the norms of international law” if it came against the five imprisoned Taliban detainees’ will. The ministry said: “No state can transfer another country’s citizen to a third country and put restriction on their freedom.”

Tireless campaigners for their son’s freedom, Bob and Jani Bergdahl thanked all who were behind the effort to retrieve him. “You were not left behind,” Bob Bergdahl told reporters, as if speaking to his son. “We are so proud of the way this was carried out.” He spoke in Boise, Idaho, wearing a long bushy beard he’d grown to honor his son, as residents in the sergeant’s hometown of Hailey prepared for a homecoming celebration.

In weighing the swap, U.S. officials decided that it could help the effort to reach reconciliation with the Taliban, which the U.S. sees as key to more security in Afghanistan. But they acknowledged the risk that the deal would embolden insurgents.

Republicans pressed that point. “Have we just put a price on other U.S. soldiers?” asked Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists?”

Last British Guantanamo prisoner pens powerful letter on twelfth anniversary of detention


February 14, 2014

 

The last remaining British prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay has penned a powerful letter to mark Valentine’s Day – the twelfth anniversary of his detention. Shaker Aamer has been held without charge or trial since his arrest in Afghanistan in November 2001. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay on 14 February 2002 where has been held since – despite being cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007 and again by the Obama administration in 2009.

Conveying the desperation felt by prisoners at the US military run camp in Cuba, he wrote: “How do I feel with another year of my life gone unjustly and another year started? Truly, I feel numb. I can’t even think about it. Years are passing like months and months like weeks. Weeks pass like days and days like hours. Hours feel like minutes, minutes seconds, and seconds pass like years. And it goes around in a strange circle that makes no sense. It all takes an age, and yet an age of my life seems to pass too fast. On and on and on. Shaker Aamer with two of his children before his arrest Shaker Aamer with two of his children before his arrest

Mr Aamer, who is currently on hunger strike, added: “I feel lonely and lost. Not knowing my future is the worst torture. I am living just to die. I am confused about everything and everyone. It is not enough for them to leave us alone with all this pain we are suffering. It is not enough for us to live only with our memories, which bring more pain.”

He also captured some of the alleged mistreatment and humiliation the 160 current inmates suffer in the prison. He describes how ‘the National Anthem is playing so loudly’ at his time of writing and how a fellow inmate consistently misses his legal call because of the full body search he is threated with by the guards. Shaker Aamer: ‘I may have to die. I hope not. I want to see my family again’

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/last-british-guantanamo-prisoner-pens-powerful-letter-on-twelfth-anniversary-of-detention-9129745.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/shaker-aamer-i-may-have-to-die-i-hope-not-i-want-to-see-my-family-again-8581966.html

Sundance premiere ‘Camp X-Ray’ explores Gitmo life

January 18, 2014

 

Kristen Stewart takes a lot of abuse in her latest film, a gritty drama about detainees at Guantanamo Bay. “Camp X-Ray,” which premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival to boisterous applause, features Stewart as Amy Cole, a guard stationed at the controversial U.S. prison in Cuba, where suspected terrorists are being detained. Stewart’s character takes an elbow to the face, is spit on and splattered with excrement, but learns her treatment is nothing compared to the detainees.

The movie is sympathetic to the prisoners’ plight; Stewart’s character eventually forms a bond with innocent inmate Ali Amir, played by Peyman Moaadi. In an interview with The Associated Press, Stewart said she relished playing such a strong character.The film originally intended Stewart’s role for a male, but he shifted to a female lead because he felt it created more conflict between the two. “And Muslims’ extremist relationship toward women also complicated (the story),” he said. “So I clicked into that.”

Lane Garrison, who also plays a guard in the movie, told the audience that working on “Camp X-Ray” shifted his thinking of Guantanamo Bay, which has been the center of a battle over whether it should close. President Barack Obama has said he would like to see it shut down. “I had a belief that everyone down there was responsible for 9/11,” said Garrison. “After doing this film I started asking questions about Guantanamo Bay and come to find out that there are still men down there that no country wants and I started thinking ‘What if there is a guy down there that is innocent that’s not a terrorist — does he deserve that day in court? It changed me to start asking questions and not just go along with the flow.”

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/sundance-premiere-camp-x-ray-explores-gitmo-life/2014/01/18/bb060d92-8048-11e3-97d3-b9925ce2c57b_story.html

British Guantanamo Bay inmate Shaker Aamer speaks from prison cell for first time on US TV show

November 19, 2013

 

The last British prisoner being held at Guantanamo Bay has spoken from his prison cell for the first time. Shaker Aamer, who has been incarcerated at the US military prison since 2002, spoke to CBS’s 60 Minutes show.

Shouting from his cell he said: “Tell the world the truth … Please, we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace – or either tell the world the truth. Open up the place. Let the world come and visit. Let the world hear what’s happening. “Please colonel, act with us like a human being, not like slaves.”

Mr Aamer, one of 164 prisoners at Guantanamo, has been held for 11 years without charge and is accused of being a close associate of Osama bin Laden, which he denies. He has been cleared for transfer by both the Bush and Obama administrations, according to Reprieve, the legal charity and human rights group which is representing him.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron raised Mr Aamer’s case with President Barack Obama at a G8 summit and the British government has repeatedly stated that it wants him returned to the UK. Despite having British residency and a British wife and four children living in Battersea, London, US authorities have repeatedly threatened to send him back to Saudi Arabia, his birthplace, against his wishes.

Mr Aamer was detained in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001 after he went to the country to carry out voluntary work for an Islamic charity, Reprieve said. It is alleged that he was tortured at the Bagram Air Force base while being questioned by US forces and in February 2010 it emerged that the Metropolitan police was investigating allegations of MI5 complicity in his torture.

“The Deputy Prime Minister went on to raise Mr Aamer’s case with Vice-President Biden in September. We are confident that the US government understands the seriousness of the UK’s request for Mr Aamer’s release. Although he admitted that “Any decision regarding Mr Aamer’s release ultimately remains in the hands of the United States government. We continue to monitor Mr Aamer’s welfare through engagement with the US authorities.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/british-guantanamo-bay-inmate-shaker-aamer-speaks-from-prison-cell-for-first-time-on-us-tv-show-8949925.html

Guantanamo Bay hunger strike grows; 41 now being force-fed

The number of hunger strikers being force-fed by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has risen to 41, with the protest showing no signs of abating more than a week after President Obama renewed his commitment to close the detention facility.

The military said in a statement Thursday that 103 detainees are on hunger strike and that 41 of them are being force-fed. The military also said four detainees who are being force-fed are being observed at the hospital.

There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, a majority of whom are Yemeni nationals. Two years ago, Obama imposed his own moratorium on sending detainees to Yemen because of concerns about security there. But he said he will lift the ban.

Obama also said he will appoint senior envoys at the State and Defense departments to oversee and accelerate the process of moving detainees.

There has been no visible progress on these commitments, but administration officials have cautioned that it will take time to restart the effort to close the facility.

Guantanamo Bay detainees’ frustrations simmering, lawyers and others say

Tensions between detainees and the military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have spiked in recent weeks, with a hunger strike at one of the camps reflecting growing despair that the Obama administration has abandoned efforts to repatriate prisoners cleared for release, according to defense lawyers and other people with access to information about detention operations.

A majority of the 166 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay are housed in Camp 6, a facility that until recently held men the military deemed “compliant.” But the camp, where cell doors are left open so detainees can live communally, has been at the center of a series of escalating protests since January.

The lawyers and human rights advocates said there is a mass hunger strike at Camp 6 that is threatening the health and life of a number of detainees. In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, they said they have received “alarming reports” that men have lost “over 20 and 30 pounds” and that “at least two dozen men have lost consciousness due to low blood glucose levels.”

A military official said 14 detainees are on hunger strikes and six of them are being force fed. Others have been refusing meals but eating non-perishable food stashed in their cells, officials said.

In a statement, Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said “claims of a mass hunger strike . . . are simply untrue.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the only outside organization allowed unrestricted visits to the camps, said it visited Guantanamo from Feb. 18 to 23 and “is aware of the tensions at the detention facility.”

Moroccan police dismantles terrorist recruiting cell in Ceuta

20 January 2013
Moroccan police have dismanteled a terrorrist recruitment cell of young Moroccans in Ceuta to be trained in terrorist tactics and then employed at the orders of Al Qaeda related organizations, as reported by the Ministry of Interior. These volunteers received intense training in military operations and suicide bombings. Among the operating cell elements are two former prisoners of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay “with great experience in handling weapons” obtained in training camps of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, according to the statement collected by the official Moroccan news agency, MAP.

Chicago lawyer wears Muslim garb while defending Gitmo 5 client

Bormann is defending Walid bin Attash, one of five top al-Qaidaoperatives on trial in Guantanamo Bay for allegedly conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The five men, who have come to be known collectively as the Gitmo 5, were arraigned there Saturday.

It was then that Bormann gained national notice, and a measure of criticism, for appearing in court in traditional Muslim clothing that left only her face showing and for asking one woman on the government team to consider dressing more modestly so her client could focus on the proceedings.

Bormann would not discuss reports of threats against her.

For her, the issue is a simple one of respecting the religious and cultural beliefs of a client. She said that since she was appointed to bin Attash’s case last year, she has always dressed conservatively out of deference to a client who believes he will violate a religious tenet if he looks at a woman who is immodestly dressed.

“My client has never seen my hair, has never seen my arms, has never seen my legs,” Bormann said in an interview Monday. “All of the defense counsel, all of the guards and everybody who works in Guantanamo Bay camp has seen me dressed like this. … I never thought in my wildest dreams that this would become an issue.”

“There is nothing provocative about what I did. This is a religious issue and a cultural issue for [some of these defendants],” Bormann said in the interview. “I want him to be able to fully concentrate on the proceedings at hand without any kind of interference or loss of focus.”

Accused 9/11 plotters to appear in Guantanamo Bay court

Early Saturday morning in a courtroom inside the highly guarded detainee prison at the U.S. Naval Base at  Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, five of the alleged top plotters in the Sept. 11 attacks will speak for the first time under a new Obama administration plan to hold them accountable under military tribunals for the worst terrorist strikes in America.

It will be a test for the prisoners, including alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, of whether to plead guilty or not guilty at the arraignment hearing — and whether to use the occasion as a platform to denounce the United States and call for more terrorist attacks around the world.

But in a larger sense the hearing, which kicks off the long-awaited military trial of the so-called Gitmo 5, will be a test of Obama himself, who in 2008 pledged to close the island prison and to try the five defendants in a civilian courtroom setting. He was unsuccessful on both counts. Now, what unfolds in Cuba over the next several months could weigh heavily on the upcoming presidential campaign.