The High Court of England and Wales on Oct. 5 approved the extradition of five terror suspects to the US. The court's decision comes a week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its final approval of the extradition, which it had initially approved in April. Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other suspects appealed that ruling in July, but the ECHR declined to revisit their arguments. In its decision, the court criticized the extensive time spent litigating the extradition. In addition to al-Masri, British citizens Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad and Saudi-born Khaled Al-Fawwaz are now slated to be extradited. All five men are wanted in the US on terrorism charges and will face imprisonment without parole at ADX Florence, a super-maximum security prison in Colorado. It has not been announced when the group will be extradited nor when they will be tried in the US.
Canadian citizen Omar Khadr was transferred to Canada from Guantánamo Bay early Sept. 30 to serve out the rest of his prison sentence under the authority of the Correctional Service of Canada. Khadr pleaded guilty to murdering US Sergeant First Class Christoper Speer, an Army medic, as well as charges of conspiracy and spying, material support of a terrorist group and attempted murder. He was originally sentenced to eight years in 2010 on top of the eight years he had already spent in prison. The rest of his sentence and future parole hearings, however, will now be handled by Canadian authorities according to Canadian law.
The Italian Court of Cassation on Sept. 19 upheld the convictions of 23 former CIA officers for the 2003 kidnapping and rendition of Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. Former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady was originally sentenced to eight years in prison, while 22 other Americans were sentenced to five years after they were all tried in absentia. In 2010 an Italian intermediate appellate court increased Lady's sentence to nine years while increasing the sentences of the other 22 defendants to seven years. The Court of Cassation upheld the sentences of nine and seven years.
Now isn't this interesting. Keane Bhatt of the Manufacturing Contempt blog on the website of the venerable North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) calls out the mainstream media, e.g. The Economist and the Los Angeles Times, for hypocrisy in pointing out that Rafael Correa's Ecuador, where Julian Assange is seeking asylum, has a less than stellar record on press freedom. By contrast, Bhatt notes, no eyebrows were raised when Emilio Palacio, an editor at the Guayaquil daily El Universo who was convicted of libel against Correa in Ecuador, fled to Miami last year—despite the fact that the USA doesn't have a stellar record on press freedom either. Bhatt points to the case of Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera cameraman who was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay for over six years before being released without charge. He also points to Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a Yemeni journalist imprisoned on dubious charges of al-Qaeda collaboration after reporting on US missile strikes. According to Jeremy Scahill in The Nation, Obama pressured the Yemeni regime to keep him locked up.
On Sept. 11, just one day after the prison at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul was officially handed over the Afghan forces, the air base came under insurgent fire, destroying a NATO Chinook CH-47 transport helicopter. Days earlier, four teen-age youths riding skateboards in Kabul were among six killed in a suicide bombing in central Kabul. The attack may have targeted the nearby NATO headquarters, but the youths were part of a nonprofit program that runs a skateboard school for Kabul kids, called Skateistan. (LAT, Sept. 12; NYT, CSM, Sept. 11; CBS, Sept. 10)
Yemeni Guantánamo Bay detainee Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died over the weekend at a hospital on the US Navy base after guards found him unconscious in his cell Sept. 8. Latif's identification was originally withheld until the US military could notify his family and his home country's government. The guards who found Latif unconscious in his cell at the US detention facility performed first aid and brought him to a hospital on the US Navy base to perform extensive life saving measures. These were unsuccessful, and doctors at the hospital pronounced Latif dead. This marks the ninth detainee to have died in custody at Guantánamo.
Government officials from both the US and Afghanistan have said that the US military will maintain control over foreign detainees at Bagram Air Base for the indefinite future, and will also continue holding and screening newly captured Afghans. According to the New York Times, the US commitment to the control and maintenance of dozens of foreign prisoners comes despite preparing to hand over its detention operations to the Afghan government on Sept. 9, as agreed to in a pact in March in the prelude to the countries' Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement (text, PDF). Given that the March pact covered only the 3,100 Afghan detainees at the time of its enactment, there has been relative uncertainty as to the fate of the additional 600 detainees added to Bagram since the signing. While concerns of arbitrary detentions have been raised by the Afghan government, namely that the agreement's no-trial detention system is contrary to Afghanistan's constitution (text, PDF), William Lietzau, the Pentagon's top detainee policy official, maintains that the system is lawful as long as the war continues. The Afghan government has refused to ratify the Bagram agreement.
During the administration of former US president George W. Bush, the US government tortured opponents of former Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi and transferred them to Libya, Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced in a report (PDF) released Sept. 5. The report, entitled "Delivered Into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi's Libya," details the ill-treatment and torture, including instances of waterboarding, of detainees in US custody. The information contained in the report comes from detainees who have since been liberated, as well as documents and files uncovered after the fall of the Qaddafi regime.