Famed Gitmo Lawyer Facing Six Months in Prison For Writing Letter to Obama Detailing Torture of Client
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Lawyers for Binyam Mohamed face the incredible prospect of a six-month jail sentence in America after writing a letter to President Obama detailing their client's allegations of torture by U.S. agents.
The privilege review team -- officials from the U.S. Department of Defense who monitor and censor communication between Guantánamo prisoners and their lawyers -- have previously been accused of using their powers to suppress evidence of the abuse and mistreatment of detainees.
Clive Stafford Smith, director of legal charity Reprieve, and his colleague Ahmed Ghappour have been summoned to appear before a Washington court on May 11 after a complaint was made by the privilege review team.
Stafford Smith had written to the president after judges in the UK ruled against the release of U.S. evidence detailing Mohamed's alleged torture at Guantánamo. The letter [PDF] asked the president to reconsider the U.S. position and urged him to release the evidence into the public domain. He attached a memo summarizing the case because his US security clearance gives him access to the classified material. In order to comply with classification guidelines, the memo did not identify individual officers by name or specify locations of the abuse.
He and Gappour submitted the memo to the privilege team for clearance but the memo was redacted to just the title, leaving the president unable to read it. Stafford Smith included the redacted copy of the memo in his letter to illustrate the extent to which it had been censored. He described it as a "bizarre reality." "You, as commander in chief, are being denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by U.S. personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command."
The privilege team argue that by releasing the redacted memo Reprieve has breached the rules that govern Guantánamo lawyers and have made a complaint to the court of "unprofessional conduct".
Stafford Smith described their actions as intimidation, saying the complaint "doesn't even specify the rule supposedly breached."