Bradford screenings – Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

As part of the Bradford International Film Festival, Cineworld at the Bradford Leisure Exchange will be hosting two screenings of the new Spectacle documentary, Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo on the 26th and 27th of March.

The March 26th viewing will also host a panel discussion of the project with filmmakers Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, along with former detainees Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes following the screening.

Outside the Law offers a powerful and personal insight into the claims that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the worst” and how those detained as “illegal enemy combatants” were given no chance to defend themselves and, even worse, given no rights whatsoever.

Information and tickets are available online as are DVD purchases

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo Renoir Screening

The Socialist Film Co-op have will be screening Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo at the Renoir Cinema in Bloomsbury on Sunday, September 12th. The screening will be followed by an exclusive Q&A with former Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes and producer Polly Nash.

For more information, visit the London Socialist Film Co-op website.

“This is a strong movie examining the imprisonment and subsequent torture of those falsely accused of anti-American conspiracy.  It avoids common conventions such as dramatic narration, music or use of archive footage, delivering frank and understated accounts from the victims and forming an intriguing and emotive cross-section of life at Guantanamo Bay.”

Joe Burnham, Time Out

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Reprieve ask Sir Peter Gibson to stand down from inquiry

Clive Stafford-Smith has published a letter sent to Sir Peter Gibson – the man elected by David Cameron to lead the inquiry into whether the UK has been complicit in the torture of terrorism suspects – that calls for him to renounce his position. The letter was written on behalf of Reprieve, an organisation which represents prisoners held ‘beyond the rule of law’ or those facing the death penalty, and which represented Binyam Mohamed in the trial which cleared his name of any connections with any terrorist acts.

Clive Stafford-Smith of Reprieve

The content of the letter focuses on the bias that compromises Sir Gibson’s position; specifically that he has already conducted an internal review on the same subject and his role as Intelligence Services Commissioner. Stafford-Smith finishes by challenging Sir Gibson about the expansion of his duties in 2009 to Gordon Brown to ‘…protect the reputation of our security and intelligence services…’ and to ‘…ensure that our practices are in line with the United Kingdom and international law,’ arguing that he should be acting as a witness to the inquiry, not leading it.

Given that previous reports maintained that the integrity of British Intelligence remained intact and that those involved in the hearings were ‘trustworthy and dependable’, Stafford-Smith feels that he is unlikely to offer any public criticisms of, or claims for accountability from either MI5 or MI6.

The full letter has been printed in full for public consumption and Stafford-Smith also appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme to debate the matter with the former chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Kim Howells.

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Government tried to prevent disclosure of detention manual

The government’s attempts to delay the current proceedings that have yielded highly classified documents for public consumption have received a rebuttal out of court. The failed attempt to suppress the information out of court, a ‘spin-off’ hope from the appeal court’s dismissal of the same case in May, has dented the coalition’s plans to restore confidence in the British Intelligence service who have been implicated in the torture of British citizens in Guantanamo and Afghanistan. It also follows previous failed efforts by David Miliband in October 2009 to prevent the disclosure of a CIA report that claimed that MI5 were fully aware that Binyam Mohamed was subject to ‘inhumane treatment’ during  interrogation in Morocco and Afghanistan, supplying information and questions to the Moroccans and Americans. Miliband was under pressure to protect the identities of those involved.

The inquiry, led by Sir Peter Gibson, will press ahead with raiding through the chest of 500,000 documents considered relevant to the judicial inquiry announced by David Cameron last week.  Among the documents that the government asked to remain undisclosed was the ‘Detainees and Detention Operations’ manual. The official document from MI6, which provides step-by-step guidelines that impressively manage to surf the boundaries of both legality and morality, contains a particularly chilling line regarding the jurisdiction of a particular detention that reads:

Is it clear that detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation?

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Measured antipathy and treachery by British Intelligence

An official report of an interview with Omar Deghayes confirmed his testimony, given in this interview with Spectacle back in December 2008, that British Intelligence were complicit in his torture during interrogation at a US airbase in Afghanistan.

The reports formally recognises Deghayes complaints that he suffered internal bleeding, and showed considered revulsion at Deghayes’ health visibly deteriorating during repeated visits to interrogate him in US custody, “Throughout the interview Deghayes expectorated rather disgustingly into a tissue as if he were still tubercular. These moments usually coincided with those answers were he was most evasive.”

Another report implicates the British Intelligence in calculated abandonment of Deghayes, stating, “We are due to see him 2100 local time on 4th March and propose that we treat this as our last opportunity to get the full truth from him. If he sticks to his story and just gives us a few more details, we propose disengaging and allowing events here to take their course.” Disengagement at this point meant rendition to lawless Guantanamo.

Deghayes is one of the former British Muslim detainees abducted and sent to US custody against their will despite being entitled to consular protection, and is one of seven former prisoners bringing cases alleging complicity in their torture against the Home Office, the Foreign Office and British Intelligence.

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To order the DVD Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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No-one’s really bothered, keep going

“Public opinion has on the whole shown little concern about the welfare of the British detainees, or the legal terms of their detention. But the issue is clearly of sensitivity to Muslim opinion in the UK and abroad.”

The source of this quote is a memo circulated to the junior Foreign Office ministers, the Foreign Office press office and the department’s senior legal advisor, Sir Michael Wood on 4 January 2002, and refers to a number of British citizens and residents who at the time were being detained by US forces. The objective nature and breezy tone of the memo betrays a shocking disregard for the suffering of prisoners who, as revealed in several of the other documents, were witnessed by British Intelligence to have been in a rapidly deteriorating state.

What is more alarming is that the message was a clear signal to indulge in the illegality, secret acts of abduction and flying prisoner from cell to cell, on the grounds that they were getting away with it.

First hand video testimony of this process from Omar Deghayes documents the horrifying results of these decisions.

The memo is among 900 classified documents disclosed during high court proceedings this week as part of the official inquiry into the Labour government’s rendition of UK citizens, and goes on to say that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should be, “seen as applying our normal standards of consular assistance as far as possible,” wholeheartedly asking its recipients not to be forthcoming about the fact that their government was knowingly allowing its people to be tortured.

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To order Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Post-birthday blues for Miliband

Any cause for celebration for David Miliband as he reflected on another year of career expediency will have been cut short by fresh accusations about his level of knowledge of British citizens rendition and subsequent torture.

Despite his promise that the current version of the guidelines, for MI5 and MI6 on how to carry out interrogations. will be published when reviewed and made suitable for public consumption, he has refused to publish the old guidelines – which he claims were more ‘informal’ than the updated version published in 2004 – on the grounds that it would give ‘succour to our enemies’.

The withholding of the official guidelines to interrogation discipline and technique is an attempt to suppress implications not only of his own government but also of those that deem torture necessary in obtaining information, contradicting his insistence that Britain should not collude with other countries that have ‘different standards to our own’.

It also demonstrates a depressing resolve to follow US practices. As the classified documents that implicate the Labour government’s complicity in the torture of British nationals suspected of terrorism demonstrate, Blair – who overruled Foreign Office attempts to give consular assistance to the former detainees – allowed suspects to be transferred to localities were torture was known to take place. Now Miliband is purveying the US default patriotic response to allegations of unlawful secrecy by claiming that to release the how-to detention pamphlet would undermine national security, whose authority must not be challenged.

Miliband’s protestation that he was unaware of any rendition or mistreatment was weakened considerably by the revelation that Gulam Mustafa, a 48 year-old businessman from Birmingham, was sent to Bangladesh and tortured with the full knowledge of MI5 in May of this year. Miliband remains a candidate in the race for the Labour leadership.

Click Guantánamo for more blogs
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For more information and ordering DVDs of Spectacle’s documentary Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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US attempt to destroy photograph of torture

The Guardian has today ( July 6) reported that US government is due to destroy a photograph taken of former Guantanamo inmate Binyam Mohamed after he was severely beaten. Binyam Mohamed has launched an emergency legal appeal to prevent this occurring, as it is a concrete piece of evidence proving his claims that he was tortured under US custody.

Binyam is also currently fighting a legal battle in the UK with David Miliband to release documents relating intelligence officers involvement in his torture.

To find out about Spectacle’s Guantanamo project visit our Project Page here you can watch edits of our Guantanamo film.

Alternatively visit our Archive Page.

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