2 May 2011, 10:18

80% of Guantanamo detainees got there for no reason

80% of Guantanamo detainees got there for no reason
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Interview with Israel Shamir, independent observer, specialist on WikiLeaks. So the Daily Telegraph and the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda just published the latest WikiLeaks. What are the latest developments?

Interview with Israel Shamir, independent observer, specialist on WikiLeaks.

So the Daily Telegraph and the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda just published the latest WikiLeaks. What are the latest developments?

The secret papers of Guantanamo prisoners were practically all published, during this week all about 700 of them were for the first time released, until now we actually didn’t know what the American authorities thought about the prisoners, what their position actually was, what the evidence was, what they actually had on them, besides saying they are all dangerous terrorists, that is something we knew, but we didn’t know details.  Now we have everything they had for themselves. This is actually reports about each prisoner sent from Guantanamo headquarters to Miami, in Miami there is the southern command of the United States’ military forces, and they received the full report about everyone. And now we found absolutely incredible things, which would be funny unless it is actually so sad. We know that a big amount, 80%, 70% of the detainees in Guantanamo were basically innocent people, who got there for no reason. Many of them stayed in Guantanamo because of the tortures that the United States authorities applied liberally to few of them. And then they began accusing absolutely everybody. One of them, for example, Abu Subeida, that is the man who accused something like 150 people of the detainees of being terrorists, and Al-Libi was also another detainee who accused many other people of terrorist activities. This Al-Libi, there is also a very unusual thing about him, that he was tortured incredibly much, and at one stage he said that he was involved with supplies of nuclear material from al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein. Now we know this is an absolute lie, but then he said it under torture and that was used by President Bush in order to promote his war on Iraq.

How were these men detained in the first place, according to these documents, because you say these were innocent people, that was then under the pressure of torture, that came up with all these confessions. But what are the grounds for detaining them?

I have in front of me dossiers of the Russian citizens; there were few Russian citizens, 9 Russian citizens. One of them, Airat Vakhitov, decided to become a devote Muslim, and he went to Tajikistan, then from Tajikistan he proceeded to an even more Muslim state, to a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. So he was obviously a man looking for some religious experience. But the moment he entered Afghanistan he was immediately arrested by the Taliban, probably he didn’t look Muslim enough for them, and he stayed in jail until Americans took over Afghanistan, and then the Americans took him and flew him to Guantanamo.

So this man was actually arrested by the Taliban and was later accused of being a terrorist?

They also found it out, in 2 or 3 years, they sorted it out, and they said, well, this man really knows nothing of anything, and he is not Taliban, he is not anything, and he was sent back to Russia.

How many of the prisoners that we have dossiers on are still in Guantanamo?

There are something like 190 who are still there.

And what are the fades of those mentioned in the documents?

Practically all of them are innocent or almost innocent or at worst they could be considered prisoners of war, there are very few people according to the dossiers which could be considered to be some sort of danger, and then even about them it is difficult to decide because the evidence is so peculiar. Like among documents there is a very interesting document saying what things should be considered evidence for a person being a dangerous terrorist, one of them is the ownership of the Casio watch, of certain model, because they say that this watch model was very popular with al-Qaeda.

You are kidding! Casio watch?

Yes, you buy a watch and then you find that it was in the vogue among al-Qaeda, and you find yourself in Guantanamo.

That is a very popular brand, I think in every American flee market you can find a Casio watch.

Exactly, but what is even worse, it is written that possession of a 100 dollar bill is also a very clear sign of belonging to al-Qaeda. They said that al-Qaeda used to give 100 dollar bills to their fighters so that they could escape. Then now we know that the oldest man in Guantanamo was aged 89, that was an old man from Afghanistan, he was brought in because not far from his house a telephone was discovered, a satellite telephone, he didn’t know how to operate it, he didn’t know how to use it, but he was sent to Guantanamo anyway. And the youngest man in Guantanamo was aged 15, that was an Afghani boy, who came to speak with Afghani soldiers, and the Afghani soldiers told him: If you had a gun, what would you do? And he told him: I would shoot Americans. So they took him and sold him to Americans.

Where can our listeners find the fullest account of this documentation, is it on the WikiLeaks site, is it accessible?

It is on the WikiLeaks site, it is also done by the competing organizations, by the New York Times, New York Times also has its own run, but the New York Times made very heavy censorship of whatever was published, and for instance in the WikiLeaks version, on the WikiLeaks site you will find that one of  the assassins of al-Qaeda was also at the same time a secret agent for the British intelligence, but this thing was deleted by the New York Times and by the Guardian, on the WikiLeaks site you can find it without deletions, straight as it is.

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