October 20, 2011
Bush confronted with Guantanamo torture complaint at Canadian economics summit
By Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers
MIAMI — International human rights lawyers in western Canada greeted George W. Bush's arrival at an economics summit Thursday by asking a Canadian court to consider a torture complaint by four Guantanamo captives, three of them free and one still held at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.
The move is part of a global Guantanamo protest effort to ground the man who set up the prison camps in 2002. In February, the former president canceled a plan to speak at a United Israel Appeal gala fundraiser in Geneva ahead of a similar torture complaint.
But Thursday the former president made his latest visit to Canada, apparently unconcerned by a sign-waving protest. He joined fellow former President Bill Clinton at a $599-a-head lunch at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit in suburban Vancouver.
Matt Eisenbrandt of the Canadian Centre for International Justice filed the four-count complaint that included a proposed 69-page draft indictment on Thursday morning. He got a Jan. 9 hearing date at the British Columbia Provincial Court in Surrey.
Protesters, meantime, stood outside the Surrey economic meeting site - some in orange jumpsuits, others waving signs that said "Shame, shame, shame" - where a federal police officer said no action was imminent.
"There is no lawful authority for the police to arrest Bush," Cpl. Drew Grainger of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told Vancouver's weekly Georgia Straight newspaper.
The former American president has visited Canada several times since leaving the White House, said Bush spokesman Freddy Ford, who had no comment on Thursday's developments.
Each count invoked torture allegations by four men who were detained in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and held President Bush responsible for their treatment. None of the men have known ties to Canada. But Eisenbrandt said the case was styled as a "personal prosecution," and invoked Canada's doctrine of universal jurisdiction on torture.
The New York Center for Constitutional Rights and Amnesty International joined with Canadian human rights lawyers to file the suit, said Eisenbrandt, who called it part of a global effort to "tighten the net" around the former president's travel.
"We don't think he should be free to come and go from Canada," he said.
Canada has been a U.S. military ally in Afghanistan and dispatched intelligence agents to the Navy base in Cuba to interrogate Guantanamo's youngest and last Canadian captive - Toronto-born Omar Khadr, now a convicted war criminal.
The four men whose claims of torture were cited in the complaint are Hassan Bin Attash, a Yemeni still held in Cuba; Muhammed Khan Tumani, a Syrian who the U.S. resettled in Portugal; Murat Kurnaz, a German-born Turkish citizen now back at home in Germany; and Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese Al-Jazeera employee now based in Doha, Qatar.
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