Leaked Guantánamo files expose perils of wearing a Casio watch and working for Al Jazeera

April 25, 2011

The leaked prisoner files show how:

    False and discredited allegations remained on prisoners’ military files as statements of fact. One example is the ‘Casio watch’ theory that anyone with that brand of time piece has suspected links to Al Qaeda. Another is the so-called ‘dirty bomb’ plot, deriving from a spoof blog by US writer Barbara Ehrenreich describing how a nuclear weapon is made ‘using a bicycle pump’ and with liquid uranium ‘poured into a bucket and swung round’.
    Men known by the military to be innocent were imprisoned for years because they were useful to the US authorities. Briton Jamal al-Harith was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. Al Jazeera cameraman Sami el Haj was held in the hope that he could provide information on Al Jazeera’s news network.
    US authorities relied heavily on discredited ‘information’, obtained from torturing a small number of detainees, to keep innocent men detained. They also relied on a handful of serial informants, who fabricated stories against hundreds of prisoners to avoid abuse and earn favours.
    Almost 100 of the inmates are listed as having had depressive or psychotic illnesses. Many went on hunger strike or attempted suicide.

Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith OBE said:

“While the leaked documents only tell a tiny part of the story, they do provide some insight into what has been happening in Guantánamo. For example, they confirm what we told the world three years ago – that al Jazeera journalist Sami el Haj was held and interrogated solely to try to spy on the news network. The US military lied about it back then, and no doubt they will try to obfuscate now.”

Cori Crider, Guantánamo lawyer and legal director at Reprieve said:

“These files offer a fascinating look into the military mind — its blind spots and biases — and expose the absurdity that Guantánamo lawyers deal with every day. Some of the DOD’s assertions look scary, others just silly, but check the sources and underneath what you find is rubbish intelligence. Even laughable allegations that have been thrown out of court remain on prisoners’ files as statements of fact, simply because the military cannot stand to admit it was wrong. The saddest part is that men have lost, and continue to lose, years of their lives because of this tissue of nonsense.”

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099/ 07931592674.

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 27 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA. Reprieve has represented, and continues to represent, a large number of prisoners who have been rendered and abused around the world, and is conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Chair: Ken Macdonald QC; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Richard Rogers, Ruth Rogers, Jon Snow, Marina Warner, Vivienne Westwood