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Monday, Oct 20th

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UNC legal team, rights advocates take up cause of tortured ex-prisoner

Abou ELKAssim BritelNorth Carolina human rights advocates and a legal team from the University of North Carolina School of Law are pressing for an apology on behalf of a man who was tortured in Pakistani and Moroccan prisons over nine years, and, according to documents, secretly transported by the CIA on a North Carolina-based plane.

“I would like recognition of the injustice I went through,” Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian of Moroccan descent who lives in Italy, said in an email Friday to McClatchy, written with his wife, Anna. “My honor and my dignity have been violated. I was deprived of family and freedom, or a future and career. I returned home after a 10-year exile with my health and mental state ruined, with no work and with much suffering.”

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U.S. criticized by observer groups for Syrian civilian casualties

syrian civilian casualtiesAir strikes conducted by the U.S. late last month against extremist militant positions in Syria killed several civilians, two observer groups said.

Human Rights Watch reported that American strikes on Sept. 23 in the village of Kafr Deryan in northern Idlib killed seven civilians.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers information from sources on the ground in the war-torn country, said that air strikes by the U.S. against an Islamic State logistics hub in Manbij early last week actually hit a grain silo, killing several civilians.

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Judge orders Guantánamo Bay force-feeding videos to be released

gitmo feedingA US federal judge has ordered the disclosure of videotapes that show the force feeding of an inmate on hunger strike at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

Days before the first legal challenge to the force feeding was due to begin, Judge Gladys Kessler of the Washington DC district court on Friday ordered the US government to prepare public versions of 28 videos showing a Syrian detainee, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, forcibly removed from his cell and fed through a tube inserted through his nose into his stomach.

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Judge Rebukes US Government, Keeps Gitmo Force-Feeding Hearing Open

Force feedingA federal judge has knocked down the government’s attempt to hold a secret hearing in a case challenging the military’s practice of force-feeding Guantanamo detainees who are on hunger strike.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler called the government’s desire to close the proceedings “deeply troubling,” and chastised the Department of Justice for appearing to “deliberately” make the request “on short notice.”

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Pentagon rules out transferring secret Bagram detainees to Guantánamo

BagramThe Pentagon has ruled out transferring its most secretly held detainees from Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay, an official told the Guardian, and is signalling it wants to resolve their years-long plight by the new year.

While US military officials scramble to figure out what to do with an estimated 13 non-Afghan detainees they hold without charge on the outskirts of Bagram airfield, “none of the detainees will be transferred to Guantánamo Bay,” Lt Col Myles Caggins, the Pentagon’s detentions spokesman, told the Guardian.

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US bid for secret Gitmo force-feeding hearings challenged

gitmo hearings challengedMedia organizations and rights groups are challenging an attempt by the U.S. government to exclude the public and press from hearings relating to the treatment of a Guantánamo Bay hunger striker.

In a motion filed Sept. 26, Justice Department lawyers requested that sessions relating to Abu Wa’el Dhiab — a Syrian national held at the detention camp since 2002 — be held in closed court. “An open hearing risks unauthorized disclosure of classified or protected information. The record in this case is large, with classified and protected information often inextricably intertwined with unclassified information,” the department argued. But on Tuesday, representatives of Dhiab and 16 U.S. human rights and news organizations filed a counter motion.

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Gitmo hunger strikes are a cry for help. Why is the US fighting back with secret torture?

gitmo hunger strike“Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent”: so goes the slogan of the world’s most famous offshore prison. It’s an Obama-era rebrand, a bid by Gitmo’s PR people to persuade Americans that today’s is a kinder, gentler Guantánamo Bay. There’s just one wrinkle: Gitmo is stilldangerous, nasty, lawless and secretive – and the evidence just keeps piling up.

At the forefront of this war over the truth is the first-ever trial concerning the practice of force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike, due to start Monday. My client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab – a Syrian man who has never been charged, and indeed has been cleared to leave Guantánamo by the US government for more than five years – has been fighting for over a year to reform the way he and other hunger-strikers have been treated. He’s finally about to have his day in court.

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