Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, June 14, 2007

  The evil of Guantanamo knows no bounds

The evil, at its core, is that Guantanamo exists not to punish the guilty, to extract useful information by means of torture, or to immobilize dangerous terrorists. No, Gitmo exists to demonstrate that the power of the US government...rather, of George Bush and Dick Cheney...knows no bounds. Nobody, whether innocent or not, whether citizen or not, has recourse or appeal from mistreatment at their hands, no matter how arbitrary. To drive that point home to the world is the reason why Guantanamo exists.

The case of Jamil el-Banna makes that clearer than ever. Late in May the US finally relented and agreed to release this friend of Bisher al-Rawi. Both men were arrested at the same time and handed over to the CIA because of the outright malice of MI5. The US tortured the men and held them nearly incommunicado for more than four and a half years.

Apparently there was no good reason for suspecting either man; the nearly unconditional return of al-Rawi to Britain in March made that plain for all to see.

But announcement of the release of el-Banna was delayed for another two months. Tony Blair refused to petition the US for his release. El-Banna, unlike al-Rawi, never worked for MI5 and thus Blair's government thought it could wash its hands of him. And indeed, when the Bush administration finally relented, it announced that the US would hand el-Banna over to Jordan rather than letting him return home to London where his family lives.

Now [el-Banna's] lawyers have a new worry. The British government told them Friday that el-Banna had been cleared by the U.S. for transfer to his native Jordan, where he says he was tortured before becoming a political refugee in Britain in 1997.

His lawyers decried the move, charging that sending him back amounted to the U.S. outsourcing torture.

"We are going to block his rendition to Jordan," attorney Clive Stafford Smith told The Associated Press. "To be sure, he would be out of (Guantanamo), but it would be from the frying pan into the fire."

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThere was no necessity for shipping him to Jordan, and plenty of reason not to. El-Banna had fled from Jordan to Britain in 1997, where he was recognized as a refugee. In 2000, he was granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain. His five young children are British citizens. But the prisons of Jordan are notorious dens of torture, and there evidently the Bush administration wanted to place el-Banna; in Jordan, he could no longer embarrass Bush.

El-Banna's lawyers tried to block the move on the grounds that, with indefinite leave since 2000 to reside in Britain, el-Banna had a right to resume his life there. But as if on cue, the British government has now come through with an excuse a justification for why el-Banna may not return home.

It turns out—and who would have predicted it—that his indefinite leave has expired.

Campaigners expressed fury after ministers said Jamil el-Banna's permission to stay in Britain had lapsed during the four-and-a-half years he has been held without charge at the US detention camp...

John Reid, the Home Secretary, has refused to confirm that he will be allowed to return to Britain when he is freed. Instead, a parliamentary written reply from Liam Byrne, the Immigration minister, cast doubt on Mr Banna's right to return to Britain. It said: "Mr Banna was recognised as a refugee by the UK in 1997 and was granted indefinite leave to remain in 2000. That leave has now lapsed."

On Tuesday, lawyers for the businessman, who fled Jordan for Britain in 1994 alleging ill treatment, applied for a judicial review, arguing that the Home Office cannot deny Mr Banna's right to return to Britain as a refugee. His MP, the Liberal Democrat frontbencher Sarah Teather, said it would be "idiotic" to refuse Mr Banna entry to Britain because his leave to stay had lapsed. She said: "He has been away from the country for four-and-a-half years because he has been locked up in Guantanmo Bay. His family are torn between being excited that he might be released and being afraid that he might be sent to Jordan. All they want is for him to come home."

Mr Banna's solicitor, Irene Nembhard, said she had asked the Home Office to confirm that he would be able to return to the UK, but had been told that Mr Reid had yet to decide on the case. She said: "As a refugee recognised by the UK, his status does not lapse. He has a legal entitlement to return to the UK."

It's entirely predictable that the vile John Reid would be involved in cooking up this justification for handing el-Banna over to Jordanian torturers.

Mr. Banna's ten year old son Anas has written a letter to Gordon Brown asking him to intervene.

"My Dad wants to come back to us and we want him to come back to our house after all these years. I hope you won't say that my Dad isn't British so you can't help him. My Dad was treated unfairly and kidnapped and even if he isn't British, we, his five children, are. I hope you won't say that my dad was away from the country for more than two years. My Dad was only out of the country because he was locked up over there. They stopped him from coming back to us. Now my Dad can leave and we hope he comes back to us. I hope he comes back to us before 17 June. Every year this day is very sad for us. I hope that this year this day will be the best day of my life".

crossposted from Unbossed

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