Four British citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay were set to be released this week. Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen, is also due for release. A recent interview with his lawyers, by Socialist Worker’s sister paper in Australia, gave an insight into the conditions suffered by the detainees.
Mamdouh was arrested while on holiday in Pakistan in October 2001. He was held for six months in Egypt then moved to Guantanamo in May 2002. His lawyers have released evidence that Mamdouh had undergone torture. He was “kicked, punched, beaten with a stick and rammed with what can only be described as an electric cattle prod”, his lawyers wrote.
Mamdouh’s lawyer in Australia, Stephen Hopper, said, “We thought it was a matter of time before they would be forced to release Mamdouh. What forced their hand were the revelations by Mamdouh’s US lawyer last November of his alleged torture at the hands of US military interrogators. The public campaign has turned opinion and exposed the activities of the US and Australian governments.
“Now that there are legal options for us to pursue, the primary concern is getting Mamdouh back here, assessing his condition and getting a detailed account of what occurred so we can see what the options are.”
About 140 people protested outside Downing Street on Thursday of last week over the continued detention without trial of foreign nationals in Britain and the threatened extradition to the US of British citizen Babar Ahmad. Just before Christmas the law lords ruled that the government’s policy of indefinite detention without trial is in breach of its commitments to international standards of human rights.
“It was a very clear and powerful ruling,” civil liberties campaigner Mike Mansfield QC told the demonstration.
“It identified the government’s anti-terrorism measures as the threat to our personal freedoms in this country.
“By refusing to act on the ruling this government and this prime minister are marked by a disrespect for the rule of law.”
Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition reminded protesters, “There is a link between the terrible drive to war abroad and the attack on our civil liberties at home. The anti-war movement will continue to take up the defence of civil liberties and oppose attempts to whip up scapegoating designed to divide us.”
A BBC documentary this Wednesday was to highlight the case of Babar Ahmad.
For more on the Babar Ahmad campaign, go to www.freebabarahmad.com
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