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Sunday, Sep 21st

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Judge fears secret hearings over Guantanamo Bay

A federal judge overseeing cases against dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees said Wednesday that he fears the public — and the detainees themselves — will be locked out of the courtroom when evidence in the case is scrutinized for the first time.

Hundreds of detainees are awaiting hearings in a Washington federal court in the coming months to determine whether they were properly labeled enemy combatants and imprisoned without being charged.

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Families of Nepalese workers killed in Iraq sue KBR

KBR Inc and its Jordanian contractor are being sued for human trafficking by a Nepalese survivor and the families of 12 other employees who were killed while being transported, allegedly against their will, to work in a U.S. military base in Iraq.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, says military contractor KBR and Daoud & Partners recruited the men in Nepal by promising them jobs at a luxury hotel in Amman, Jordan, but instead sent them to Iraq where all but one were kidnapped and killed.

The 12 victims had their passports confiscated by Daoud representatives, and were kidnapped from an unprotected convoy by Islamic militants and killed in 2004, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles.

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US warning to court in alleged torture case

The US state department yesterday warned that disclosure of secret information in the case of a British resident said to have been tortured before he was sent to Guantánamo Bay would cause "serious and lasting damage" to security relations between the countries.

Stephen Mathias, a legal adviser to the department, also claimed that the "national security of the UK" would be affected by disclosure of the details of the detention and interrogation of Binyam Mohamed, 30, who is accused of conspiring with al-Qaida.

Lawyers for the Ethiopian national have been arguing in the high court that they should have access to details of his interrogation from the time he was detained in 2002 until he was taken to Guantánamo Bay - where he is still held - in 2004. Mohamed claims that he was tortured by, among other methods, having his penis cut with a razor blade.

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Detainees sealed in pepper spray cell

SIX American sailors working as prison camp guards in Iraq face courts martial for abusing detainees, some of whom were sealed in a cell with pepper spray.

The US Navy said seven other sailors were given non-judicial punishments over the incident, which took place on May 14 at Camp Bucca, the vast desert camp in southern Iraq where the US military houses 18,000 of its 21,000 prisoners. 

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British security laws are eroding human rights, says UN

A report from the UN's committee on human rights hit out at Britain's terror and libel laws and use of the Offical Secrets Act.

The UN said provisions under the Terrorism Act 2006 covering encouragement of terrorism are too "broad and vague" which could infringe on freedom of expression.

Under the new law people convicted of encouragement of terrorism face up to seven years in jail even if they did not intend to incite violence.

And it said the use of the Official Secrets Act was gagging civil servants from bringing issues of genuine public interest to wider attention even when national security was not at risk. 

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Brig. gen. removed from 2nd Gitmo trial

A military judge on Thursday barred a Pentagon official from taking part in a second war crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay, providing more ammunition for detainee lawyers who allege that political interference taints the proceedings.

The ruling will fuel defense challenges in other trials at the U.S. Navy base, where a former chief prosecutor and defense lawyers have accused Air Force Brig Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser to the tribunals, of demanding that certain cases be pursued over others based on political considerations. 

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Israel's front-line thugs

Of late, there has been a steady stream of brutal assaults carried out by settlers against their Palestinian neighbours in the West Bank, right under the noses of the lackadaisical army. The phenomenon is, sadly, nothing new; what has brought the story back into the spotlight are the efforts of human rights groups, such as B'Tselem to film the violence and document the shocking reality on the ground – which is why, it seems, the authorities are so keen to clamp down on their activity in the region.

However, the settlers don't confine their vindictive and vicious attacks to Palestinians; they are not averse to attacking their Jewish peers either. Two recent incidents amply demonstrated the extent to which the Wild West Bank has become bandit country, with no sheriff's posse daring to stand up to the rogue elements holding the region at ransom.

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