[Ppnews] Plea to US courts to prevent Guantánamo prisoner's forced return to Algeria.
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 6 12:36:11 EDT 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (April 6 2010):
Reprieve launches emergency legal action for
Guantánamo prisoner Ahmed Belbacha as US
government makes worrying deal with Algeria.
Lawyers for former British resident Ahmed
Belbacha yesterday submitted an emergency plea to
the US courts seeking to prevent his forced
return to persecution and torture in Algeria.
Ahmeds legal team is deeply concerned by the
Obama Administrations Easter weekend
announcement of a deal with the Algerian
government. US Attorney General Eric Holder will
travel to Algiers tomorrow to discuss
cooperation on combating terrorism and enhancing
law enforcement coordination and to sign a
mutual legal assistance treaty with the Algerian Minister of Justice.
Ahmed, a 39 year-old accountant, was visibly
terrified during his attorney visit last week and
remains a tragic figure in Guantánamo. Cleared of
all charges by the Bush Administration, he has
consistently chosen to stay imprisoned rather
than face his fate in Algeria, a country he
originally fled after threats on his life by the
terrorist group Group Islamique Armé
(GIA). Ahmeds plight, together with his
gentle nature, has attracted private offers of
help from both sides of the Atlantic, but no
government has come to Ahmeds rescue. Reprieve
worldwide to the governments of Britain, Ireland and Luxembourg - for help.
Ahmeds attorney, Reprieves Tara Murray said:
As Attorney General Holder travels to Algeria,
all signs now point towards Ahmeds imminent
forced transfer to torture and persecution. We
implore the European nations of Ireland,
Luxembourg and the UK to stand up and put an end to Ahmeds agony.
Ahmed Belbacha lived for years in the seaside
town of Bournemouth, UK, where he studied English
and worked; during a Labour conference he was
responsible for cleaning the hotel room of Deputy
Prime Minister John Prescott, from whom he
received a healthy tip and note of appreciation.
He is now in his eighth year of imprisonment without charge in Guantánamo Bay.
Ahmeds fears about Algeria were confirmed by an
alarming conviction delivered in absentia by an
Algerian court last November. In a disgraceful
show trial, where no lawyer was appointed to
defend Ahmed, the court sentenced him to 20 years
in prison for belonging to an overseas terrorist
group. Despite repeated requests and extensive
investigation, Reprieves lawyers have been
unable to discover what exactly Ahmed is supposed
to have done. No evidence has been produced to
support his conviction, which appears to be
retaliation against Ahmed for speaking out about
the inhumane treatment he would be subjected to if sent to Algeria.
Ahmed had been protected by an injunction barring
the US government from repatriating him against
his will, but a US judge dissolved the injunction
in February. Reprieve immediately requested the
decision be reversed, citing the US Supreme
Courts ongoing consideration of a related case,
Kiyemba v Obama (Kiyemba II), in which it was
decided that US courts could not prevent the
Obama Administration from forcibly repatriating
prisoners to countries where they face
persecution. Worryingly, on Monday 22nd March,
the Supreme Court decided not to review Kiyemba
II; Reprieve then submitted another plea to DCs
federal district court on 24th March, followed by
an emergency motion over the Easter weekend following Holders announcement.
Ahmeds plight, together with his gentle nature,
has attracted private offers of help. He has been
given a room in a flat by a Bournemouth resident,
and the Massachusetts town of Amherst has
him refuge in defiance of Congress. So far,
however, no government has come forward to help.
For more information please contact Katherine
OShea at Reprieves Press Office:
<mailto:katherine.oshea at reprieve.org.uk>katherine.oshea at reprieve.org.uk
020 7427 1099/ 07931592674 or go to
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 persons
right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive
Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has
spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing
the death penalty in the USA.
Reprieves current casework involves representing
33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay,
working on behalf of prisoners facing the death
penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations
into the rendition and the secret detention of
ghost prisoners in the so-called war on terror.
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