US asks Germany to take Gitmo prisoners

The United States has asked Germany to accept some Guantanamo prisoners when the facility is closed, the Interior Ministry said Sunday, confirming German media reports. An Interior Ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the ministry’s policy, confirmed a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. has provided a list of names of prisoners it would like Germany to accept. “There is a concrete request,” the spokesman said, saying he could not provide any further details. Der Spiegel reported, without citing sources, that the U.S. had asked Germany to accept 10 prisoners. Top-selling Bild newspaper, meanwhile, reported the 10 were Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs. It also did not cite sources. President Barack Obama has ordered the military prison in Cuba shuttered in the next nine months. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at the end of April that the U.S. Justice Department is still trying to determine how many of the 241 prisoners in Guantanamo will be taken by other countries. Also at the end of April, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spent several days privately asking European leaders in London, Prague and Berlin for help relocating prisoners the United States wants to set free. In Berlin, Holder said the United States had made decisions on a group of about 30 prisoners, but had not yet decided where it wants to send them. Torsten Holtz reports.

US asks Germany to take 10 Guantánamo inmates

The US government has officially asked Germany to accept as many as 10 inmates from the Guantánamo Bay prison, handing over a list to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and the Foreign Ministry. The request was made last week during a visit by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who spent four days in Europe talking to top judicial and interior officials from the European Union about how President Barack Obama intended to close the prison within the year. “A specific request has been made,” a German Interior Ministry spokesman said Sunday. After his talks in Berlin, Mr. Holder said Wednesday that 30 inmates could be freed immediately if a host country would be willing to take them in. In all, about 50 of the 241 inmates cannot be sent back to their own countries because they may be tortured or face the death penalty there. In an apparent contradiction to the Interior Ministry, Mr. Holder had added that no “specific requests” or “specific promises” had been made. The German interior and foreign ministries said Daniel Fried, a senior diplomat and a member of Mr. Holder’s team, had presented the list. Mr. Fried, who has been the assistant secretary of state for European affairs and is a former ambassador to Poland, is now Washington’s top diplomat dealing with the closing of the Guantánamo prison. The issue has divided the German government. Mrs. Merkel’s conservatives are in no hurry to accept any former inmates, fearing that they could pose a security threat. The Social Democrats, Mrs. Merkel’s coalition partners, are more eager to accept them, for moral reasons but also because they want to give the Obama administration tangible help. Wolfgang Schäuble, the interior minister and a member of Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, discussed with Mr. Holder in detail the logistics of taking in any inmates. Mr. Schäuble has always made it clear that the United States has primary responsibility for the inmates, because it opened the camp after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But in recent weeks, Mr. Schäuble also said Germany might consider taking some detainees, under certain conditions.

Washington Post

Guantanamo detainees back in UK

Some of the hundreds of people who were held by the US authorities at Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba were British-based. Seven of them are starting a legal challenge to prevent the destruction of any alleged evidence of government collusion in their detention.

The BBC has been speaking to several of those who were held to find out what happened when they returned home. The testimonies give evidence of the failures of Western states to ensure the rule of law and to protect human rights in the fight against terrorism.

Officials consider Islam-related rehabilitation for Canadian Omar Khadr following Guantanamo

With the Guantanamo Bay prison set to close within a year, little has been said in recent US/Canada meetings about the fate of Canadian child solider, Omar Khadr. This Globe and Mail article suggests that, assuming that he is returned to Canada, as opposed to incarceration in the United States, serious thought must be given to his rehabilitation and eventual reintegration into society.

One model is Saudi Arabia’s comprehensive counterterrorism program aimed at prevention, rehabilitation and post-release care. A central feature of the program is the recognition the state must also engage in a “war of ideas” to combat the ideological justifications of violence. The Saudi government asserts its interpretation of Islam in which loyalty and obedience to the state are paramount. The Saudi prison rehabilitation program includes art therapy and theological debates between scholars and prisoners.

The Case of Omar Khadr, Canadian Detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Explodes With Release of Tape

Lawyers representing the lone Canadian prisoner in Guantanamo Bay renewed their calls for his repatriation following the release of a videotape of his interrogation by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents in 2003. The once-secret material was widely released Tuesday after a series of Canadian court orders. The tape depicts a then-16-year-old Khadr weeping and complaining of the medical treatment he received at the U.S. military prison in Cuba. Khadr was captured in 2002 by U.S. soldiers after an altercation in Afghanistan. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade and is scheduled to be tried before a military commission in October 2008. Khadr has spent nearly six years at Guantanamo Bay. His father was Ahmed Said Khadr, an Egyptian-Canadian al-Qaeda lieutenant who died in 2003. While Khadr has allegedly confessed to the crime, experts claims evidence collected under duress in Guantanamo or Afghanistan would be useless in Canadian court. Several lawmakers have called for the prosecution of Khadr, now 21, under Canadian law, which would be a challenging and unprecedented process.

Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo by Murat Kur

A Turkish citizen born and raised in Germany, Murat Kurnaz was only 19 when he was arrested without explanation in Pakistan in October 2001. Handed over to the US, he spent the next 1,600 days enduring the brutal life of a prisoner at Guantanamo with its various forms of torture, before being released without explanation or apology in August 2006. Here he describes the early days in his cage in Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay

UK writers award for former Guantanamo Bay detainee

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg has been honoured at the annual _Muslim Writers Awards 2008′ for his book chronicling his time in the US detention centre and his return back home to Britain. Begg was awarded the _Published Writer of the Year’ award for his book, _Enemy Combatants: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantanamo and Back’. Giving a powerful acceptance speech, Begg, who owns a bookstore in Birmingham recalled how faith and prayer strengthened the bond between the “Enemy Combatants” during the abuse and humiliation meted out to them by their captors. Eight awards were presented at a ceremony in Birmingham, following a review of 10,000 entries by a panel of independent judges.

Judge says Al Qaeda suspects unfit for trial

Spain has dropped the extradition of two British residents formerly held as terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay. High Court judge Baltasar Garzon shelved the case of two inmates in after medical reports from British authorities declared them to be unfit to stand trial after suffering years of abuse and torture, according to their lawyers. The pair, Jamil el-Banna and Omar Deghayes, were accused of belonging to a Spanish cell of al Qaeda, but their lawyers say that el-Banna had never been to Spain and Deghayes had suffered a case of mistaken identity.

East London Muslims Caged Guantanamo-Style

Two British Muslims are being locked-up in a cage, chained and hooded for 6 days and nights without basic amenities and comfort in a busy traffic junction corner on the Whitechapel Road (East London). Hidden Detainees, the organisers behind the event, hope to recreate the barbaric conditions of the Guantanamo Bay (Camp X-Ray) camp in Cuba, where over 775 suspects from around the world were illegally held as part of America’s _War on Terror’. The notorious Camp X-Ray has received worldwide condemnation for operating outside the law, with record numbers of prisoners committing suicide and going on extensive hunger strikes.