Monday, February 23, 2009

Holder to Gitmo. Binyam Mohamed returns to UK.

In a funny bit of timing, as AG Eric Holder was winging his way toward our Club Med for the "Worst of the Worst" at Gitmo, Ethiopian detainee Binyam Mohamed, the UK resident at the heart of a torture scandal, was on his way back to London. The BBC reports he just arrived and will be taken to a police station, processed and then, presumably, released.

The BBC:

"A British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years has arrived back in the UK. Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, 30, landed at RAF Northolt in London on Monday afternoon, accompanied by Metropolitan Police officers. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said his release was the first step towards the goal of closing down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Mr Mohamed said in a statement: 'I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years . . . I wish I could say that it is all over, but it is not. There are still 241 Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo. Many have long since been cleared even by the US military, yet cannot go anywhere as they face persecution. Then there are thousands of other prisoners held by the US elsewhere around the world, with no charges, and without access to their families." [The rest of his statement]

The Guardian:

"Upon his return to England after more than four years inside Guantánamo, Mohamed will be taken to a secure, secret location in order for him to be fully rehabilitated by a team of volunteer doctors and psychiatrists. Mohamed will be kept under a 'voluntary security arrangement' which involves reporting to the authorities, but he will not be subject to an anti-terror control order. His lawyers reiterate that he has nothing to hide after US terror charges against him were dropped last year. "

The Gaurdian: Mohamed beaten until last minute . . .

"Mohamed was found to be suffering from bruising, organ damage, stomach complaints, malnutrition, sores to feet and hands, severe damage to ligaments as well as profound emotional and psychological problems which have been exacerbated by the refusal of Guantánamo's guards to give him counselling.

Mohamed's British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said his client had been beaten 'dozens' of times inside the notorious US camp in Cuba with the most recent abuse occurring during recent weeks. He said: 'He has a list of physical ailments that cover two sheets of A4 paper. What Binyam has been through should have been left behind in the middle ages.'

Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed's US military attorney, added: 'He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don't like to think about it because my country is behind all this.'

Stafford Smith, the director of legal charity Reprieve, said yesterday that Mohamed had been routinely beaten by Guantánamo's notorious emergency reaction force, a six-strong team of guards in riot gear who have been the subject of previous abuse allegations. The alleged beatings were routinely administered against Mohamed 'for no reason' and some were 'recent' according to Stafford Smith."

Obama buys the policy:

So, what? Is Holder going down there to to get a few punches in before we shut the place down? I'm thinking if Mohamed was getting beaten as the UK was negotiating with the Obama administration for his release - to say nothing of the force feeding! -- then that's seriously messed up. Here we got a new president, a new policy, no more torture, etc. and we find the same old stuff going on.

And God knows what's going on around the world at our other secret prisons. Obama & Co. just told a judge in the US the courts have no jurisdiction over 4 detainees at Baghram suing for their release after six years of detention:


"Barbara Olshansky, lead counsel for three of the four detainees and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, said she was deeply disappointed that the Obama administration had decided to 'adhere to a position that has contributed to making our country a pariah around the world for its flagrant disregard of people's human rights.'"

Extra note:

Speaking of some of those left behind at Gitmo: When will the seven Uyghurs being held at Gitmo be getting released? Not only weren't they ever charged with doing anything wrong, they've actually been found to be totally innocent, which is rare at Gitmo, yet they're still there. We wouldn't want to offend the Chinese, though. We'll release the Uyghurs when they tell us we can!

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