[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


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.

Ahmed’s legal team is deeply concerned by the 
Obama Administration’s 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).    Ahmed’s plight, together with his 
gentle nature, has attracted private offers of 
help from both sides of the Atlantic, but no 
government has come to Ahmed’s rescue. Reprieve 
worldwide – to the governments of Britain, Ireland and Luxembourg - for help.

Ahmed’s attorney, Reprieve’s Tara Murray said: 
“As Attorney General Holder travels to Algeria, 
all signs now point towards Ahmed’s 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 Ahmed’s 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.

Ahmed’s 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, Reprieve’s 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 
Court’s 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 DC’s 
federal district court on 24th March, followed by 
an emergency motion over the Easter weekend following Holder’s announcement.

Ahmed’s 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 
O’Shea at Reprieve’s 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 person’s 
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.

Reprieve’s 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.’

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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