Sane nations free former Guantanamo detainees

2006-12-21

Richard Moore

This article should come as no surprise. There are only three reasons for the 
Guantanamo detentions:

1) to support the lie that terrorism is a threat to the US
2) to confine prisoners who know the CIA runs Al Qaeda
3) to establish a precedent for concentration camps in the USA

rkm

--------------------------------------------------------
Original source URL:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/121506S.shtml
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/after_guantanamo

AP: Some Gitmo detainees freed elsewhere
By ANDREW O. SELSKY, Associated Press Writer
Fri Dec 15, 2:12 PM ET

The Pentagon called them "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious 
killers on the face of the earth," sweeping them up after Sept. 11 and hauling 
them in chains to a U.S. military prison in southeastern Cuba.

Since then, hundreds of the men have been transferred from Guantanamo Bay to 
other countries, many of them for "continued detention."

And then set free.

Decisions by more than a dozen countries in the Middle East, Europe and South 
Asia to release the former Guantanamo detainees raise questions about whether 
they were really as dangerous as the United States claimed, or whether some of 
America's staunchest allies have set terrorists and militants free.

The United States does not systematically track what happens to detainees once 
they leave Guantanamo, the U.S. State Department says. Defense lawyers and human
rights groups say they know of no centralized database, although one group is 
attempting to compile one.

When the Pentagon announces a detainee has been moved from Guantanamo, it gives 
his nationality but not his name, making it difficult to track the roughly 360 
men released since the detention center opened in January 2002. The Pentagon 
says detainees have been sent to 26 countries.

But through interviews with justice and police officials, detainees and their 
families, and using reports from human rights groups and local media, The 
Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The
investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:

_Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed
without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at 
Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.

_Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP 
identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting 
verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals ‹ one in Kuwait, one in Spain ‹ 
initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.

_The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent 
home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation 
commission, said many were innocent and wound up at Guantanamo because of tribal
or personal rivalries.

_At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in 
Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators 
determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan 
warlords who invented links between the men and al-Qaida. "We consider them 
innocent," said the official, who declined to be named because of the 
sensitivity of the issue.

_All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, 
Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within 
hours after being sent home for "continued detention."

Some former detainees say they never intended to harm the United States and are 
bitter.

"I can't wash the three long years of pain, trouble and humiliation from my 
memory," said Badarzaman Badar, an Afghan who was freed in Pakistan. "It is like
a cancer in my mind that makes me disturbed every time I think of those terrible
days."

Overall, about 165 Guantanamo detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo 
for "continued detention," while about 200 were designated for immediate 
release. Some 420 detainees remain at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Clive Stafford Smith, a British-American attorney representing several 
detainees, said the AP's findings indicate that innocent men were jailed and 
that the term "continued detention" is part of "a politically motivated farce."

"The Bush Administration wants to be able to say that these are dangerous 
terrorists who are going to be confined upon their release ... although there is
no evidence against many of them," he said.

When four Britons were sent home from Guantanamo in January 2005, Britain said 
it would detain and investigate them ‹ then released them after only 18 hours. 
Five Britons repatriated earlier were also rapidly released with no charges.

Murat Kurnaz, a German-born Turkish citizen, was also quickly freed when he was 
flown to Germany in August, bound hand and foot, after more than four years at 
Guantanamo.

U.S. officials maintained he was a member of al-Qaida, based on what they said 
was secret evidence. But his New Jersey-based lawyer, Baher Azmy, said he was 
shown the classified evidence and was shocked to find how unpersuasive it was.

"It contains five or six statements exonerating him," Azmy said.

In October German prosecutors said they found no evidence that Kurnaz had links 
to Islamic radicals in Pakistan or Afghanistan and formally dropped their 
investigation.

The United States insists that the fact that so many of the former detainees 
have been freed by other countries doesn't mean they weren't dangerous.

"They were part of Taliban, al-Qaida, or associated forces that are engaged in 
hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," said Navy 
Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman.

But Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a lawyer representing several detainees, says the 
fact that hundreds of men have been released into freedom belies their 
characterization by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as "among the most 
dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth."

"After all, it would simply be incredible to suggest that the United States has 
voluntarily released such 'vicious killers' or that such men had been 
miraculously reformed at Guantanamo," Colangelo-Bryan said.

Mohammed Aman, a 49-year-old Afghan who describes himself as a former low-level 
member of the Taliban, said he initially wasn't worried when U.S. troops 
detained him.

"I was relaxed because I was innocent," he said. "I was sure I would be freed. I
was always thinking that today or tomorrow I will be free."

He spent three years at Guantanamo until he was finally put on a plane at the 
base, blindfolded and with headphones covering his ears. When he made it back to
his home in Malaik Khail, Afghanistan, villagers streamed out to greet him, many
weeping.

Detainees are held at Guantanamo Bay because a military panel classifies them as
an "enemy combatant," which refers not only to armed fighters but to anyone who 
aids enemy forces. Every year, each gets a hearing to determine whether he 
remains a security threat to the United States or has intelligence value.

Using those hearings as guidance, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England 
decides whether to keep the detainee at Guantanamo, release him, or send him to 
another country for detention.

This year, through Nov. 20, he had ruled on 149 prisoners. He decided that 106 
should be held, 43 should be transferred to custody of other countries and none 
should be released outright.

Azmy, the New Jersey lawyer, said the distinction between release and transfer 
is largely a fiction because recipient countries are under no obligation to 
imprison the returnees. The United States doesn't even ask them to.

A senior U.S. State Department official acknowledged that "We do not ask 
countries to detain them on our behalf, so when a decision is made by a country 
to move forward with an investigation for prosecution, that is something they 
have decided to do pursuant to their own domestic law."

Requesting anonymity because she is not authorized to speak on the record, she 
said about 15 former detainees returned to the battlefield after being freed. 
The Pentagon was unable to provide details.

"That's the risk that goes along with transferring people out of Guantanamo," 
she said. "It's not foolproof."

Some former detainees still face the justice systems of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and
France.

Six Kuwaitis returned from Guantanamo stood trial on terror-related charges. 
Five were acquitted, and on Dec. 5 an appeals court overturned the conviction of
the sixth, Nasser al-Mutairi.

In France, the trial of six transferred Guantanamo detainees has focused as much
on the U.S. prison camp as on their prosecution on charges of "criminal 
association with a terrorist enterprise."

Prosecutor Sonya Djemni-Wagner has requested light sentences, saying she took 
into account the defendants' "arbitrary detention ... at a facility outside all 
legal frameworks."

She is seeking one year in prison plus suspended sentences for five suspects and
no sentence for the sixth, all of whom are currently free.

Their time already served behind bars in France should be counted toward their 
sentences, she said, meaning that even if convicted, none would be locked up.

___

Andrew Selsky oversees AP's coverage of Guantanamo Bay from his base in San 
Juan, Puerto Rico, and periodically visits there. Among AP correspondents who 
contributed to this story are Jason Straziuso in Kabul, Afghanistan; Munir Ahmad
in Islamabad, Pakistan; Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan; Angela Doland in Paris 
and Diana Elias in Kuwait City. The AP's News Research Center in New York also 
contributed.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
-- 

--------------------------------------------------------
Escaping the Matrix website     http://escapingthematrix.org/
cyberjournal website            http://cyberjournal.org
subscribe cyberjournal list     mailto:•••@••.•••
Posting archives                http://cyberjournal.org/show_archives/
Blogs:
  cyberjournal forum            http://cyberjournal-rkm.blogspot.com/
  Achieving real democracy      http://harmonization.blogspot.com/
  for readers of ETM            http://matrixreaders.blogspot.com/
  Community Empowerment http://empowermentinitiatives.blogspot.com/
  Blogger made easy             http://quaylargo.com/help/ezblogger.html

Share this: