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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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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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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Inquiry Confirms UK Collusion in Torture

Highly classified documents have been disclosed that detail the involvement of Tony Blair’s government in the torture of its own citizens. The documents not only support claims by six former Guantánamo detainees that British Intelligence were complicit in their mistreatment but also implicates the previous government in a number of illegal operations and thwarting attempts by Foreign Office officials to try the suspects in the UK.

The interrogation reports, which were released in today’s Guardian, are the first batch of an estimated 500,000 documents that the government believe may be pertinent in the judicial inquiry announced last week by David Cameron.

First hand testimony with Omar Deghayes, one of the former Guantánamo Bay detainees,  can be seen here in an interview with Spectacle. He describes his interrogation by British Intelligence agent, “Andrew”, and others (MI5 and MI6) while held illegally in Pakistan, before being sold into US custody and rendered to Bagram prison in Afghanistan and subjected to torture.

Spectacle’s documentary about the stories of three former Guantánamo prisoners – Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo – is currently available to order by DVD. If you would like to arrange a screening of the film, please contact Spectacle distribution.

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