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HABIB - released from US detention, but still "suspect".

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 12:36 am
Read this & see what you think:

Downer defends Habib detention
By Lauren Ahwan
January 28, 2005 - 5:13PM/the AGE


Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has defended the three-year detention of Mamdouh Habib, who returned to Australia today from the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Asked whether Mr Habib deserved compensation for his detention without charge, Mr Downer said: "No, I definitely don't."

He said allegations that Mr Habib was involved with terrorist organisation al-Qaeda warranted his detention.

"This is a very, very serious allegation," Mr Downer said today.

"Al-Qaeda is the world's most evil terrorist organisation.

"There's a situation where people who are combatants in a conflict and then are detained are held in detention until the end of that conflict.

"In those circumstances, people are detained until there's some process worked through about what to do with them."

Mr Habib arrived at Sydney Airport in a government-chartered jet today before boarding a small propeller aircraft which took off for an unknown destination.

He is unlikely to face prosecution in Australia because most anti-terror legislation started in July 2002, after his capture in Pakistan.

However, Australia has pledged to monitor Mr Habib as part of his release to ensure he presented no security threat.

"We've told the Americans we will provide appropriate security for Australian people," Mr Downer said.

"ASIO and the Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales police will monitor his activities and we will make sure that at no time he becomes a threat to the Australian people.

"Anybody who has allegedly been involved in an organisation like al-Qaeda - which is the world's most evil terrorist organisation - is somebody who is of great concern to the Australian government and our priority is the protection of the Australian people.

"I don't think the public expect any less of us than that."

Sydney lawyer Stephen Hopper yesterday said he was gathering evidence to prove the federal government was aware Mr Habib was tortured at Guantanamo Bay.

In one instance of the torture alleged by Mr Hopper, a prostitute stood over Mr Habib and menstruated on him.

Mr Downer denied any Australian involvement or knowledge of the abuse.

"They can look for what they like. They won't find anything," he said of Mr Hopper's inquiries.

"We have not a skerrick of evidence that any Australian has been involved in abusing Mr Habib."


- AAP


http://www.theage.com.au/news/War-on-Terror/Downer-defends-Habib-detention/2005/01/28/1106850100275.html
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 12:41 am
Events following Habib's arrest
January 28, 2005 - 3:35PM/the AGE


Chronology of events since Mamdouh Habib's arrest in Pakistan in October, 2001:

2001 July - Mamdouh Habib visits Pakistan looking to resettle his family from Sydney.

Oct 5 - Mr Habib is arrested by Pakistani police, suspected of training with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Oct-Nov - Mr Habib is interviewed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and federal police.

2002

Jan - Media reports Mr Habib is in custody in Egypt and has been tortured.

April 18 - The Australian government confirms he has been arrested and is in US custody in Afghanistan.

May 4 - Mr Habib is transferred to the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He is interviewed by Australian officials. Sends his first letters to his family claiming he is innocent and had been kidnapped.

Oct - An Australian lawyer working with detainees at Guantanamo Bay says Mr Habib and fellow Australian detainee David Hicks are being tortured.

2003

July - Media reports that Mr Habib raised money for a blind cleric detained in the US on terrorism charges, and that he had been in touch with convicted terrorists in the 1990s.

Aug - Media reports that a NSW police report cleared Mr Habib of being a terrorist in 2001.

Oct - Habib's wife, Maha and son, Ahmed, attend federal parliament as guests of the Australian Greens during US President George W Bush's visit.

2004

May - A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Briton Tarek Dergoul, claims Mr Habib was tortured in Egypt.

June - Attorney-General Philip Ruddock rules out trying Mr Habib and Mr Hicks in Australia. Mr Habib's lawyers launch a legal challenge to his detention after the US Supreme Court rules US courts can hear appeals from foreign detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

July - Further claims of Mr Habib's torture in Egypt are made by senior Qatari and Pakistani officials. Mr Habib named as one of nine inmates who will stand trial before a military commission.

Aug - Three Britons released from Guantanamo Bay say Mr Habib "was in a catastrophic state, mental and physical" and received no medical attention for recurrent bleeding suffered after being tortured in Egypt. A US investigation finds Mr Habib and Mr Hicks were not abused while detained by US captors.

Sept - Mr Habib faces a hearing before the US Combatant Status Review Tribunal.

Oct - US government alleges he had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks, helped train the hijackers and had planned to hijack a plane himself.

Nov - Egypt seeks custody of five Guantanamo Bay detainees including a Ahmed Habib, believed to be Mamdouh Habib.

Dec - Lawyers say FBI emails and Red Cross report back up torture claims.

2005

Jan 6 - US legal document says an Australian official watched as US agents tortured and photographed Mr Habib in Pakistan. Claim is denied by government.

Jan 11 - Announcement that Mr Habib is to be released without charge.

Jan 19 - Cost of return flight estimated at up to $500,000.

Jan 21 - Government says it won't follow US advice to shackle Mr Habib on return flight.

Jan 25 - Attorney-General seeks advice on seizing any profits made from Mr Habib selling his story.

Jan 27 - Lawyer Stephen Hopper alleges a prostitute was told to stand over Mr Habib and menstruate on him. Federal police chief Mick Keelty says Mr Habib won't be charged.

Jan 28 - Mr Habib leaves Cuba for Australia.

- AAP
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 12:50 am
Habib finally reunited with family
January 28, 2005 - 4:49PM/the AGE


Mamdouh Habib has been reunited with his family after arriving back in Australia, the federal government says.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the former Guantanamo Bay detainee was flown back into Australia on a government-chartered aircraft which arrived in Sydney on Friday afternoon.

"He has been reunited with his family," Mr Ruddock said in a statement.

Mr Ruddock said it appeared unlikely Mr Habib could be charged under anti-terrorism laws.

"The specific criminal terrorism offences of being a member of, training with, funding or associating with a terrorist organisation such as al-Qaeda did not exist under Australian law at the time of Mr Habib's alleged activities," he said.

"For this reason, on the evidence and advice currently available to the government, it does not appear likely that Mr Habib can be prosecuted for his alleged activities under those Australian laws."

But, he said, Mr Habib remained of security interest because of his former associations and activities.

"It would be inappropriate to elaborate on those issues," Mr Ruddock said.

"Because of this interest, relevant agencies will undertake appropriate measures.

"Consistent with long-standing practice, the government does not intend to detail the nature of these measures."
© 2005 AAP
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 01:07 am
I find this really weird: The US government detained Habib for 3 years couldn't, apparently, find any grounds for prosecution. All the same, they wanted him to be returned to Australia in shackles on his release.
The Australian government doesn't appear to have found anything that they can get him on, either. And continue to "know nothing", (despite US documentation to the contrary) of the circumstances of his detention, torture & ill-treatment at Guantanamo Bay & in Egypt. However, he remains "a person of interest" to the Australian government & his movements will be monitored now that he has returned here. The Attorney-General says the Australian government will seize any profits that are made from the possible sale of his story to the media.
In the meantime, Mr Habib's lawyer has consistently claimed that his client is innocent.

So who the hell are we supposed to believe & what the hell are we supposed to make of this mess? Confused
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 01:10 am
This is going to turn into a very, very interesting story over the next weeks & months, now that Mr Habib can give his version of events.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 01:19 am
Last Update: Friday, January 28, 2005. 5:44pm (AEDT)
ABC online


Beazley weighs in to Habib media debate

The new Labor leader Kim Beazley has questioned whether the Government can stop former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib from talking to the media.

After three years in detention without charge, Mamdouh Habib has arrived back in Australia.

The Federal Government has passed legislation which prevents people who have been implicated in terror offences from selling their story, and it is currently investigating whether those laws apply to Mr Habib.

But Mr Beazley says because Mr Habib has never been charged, the laws should not apply to him.

"I am slightly mystified by the Government's view about the impact of the legislation on taking advantage in stories of the processes of crime," he said.

"I'm not sure that in fact it applies to Mr Habib's situation."
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 01:54 am
And here's Crikey's (Oz online alternative political commentary site) take on Habib's situation. Very damning!:

Travellers beware: know your rights
By Frank Gumption

If one is to look at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) web site, you will find the following description of the department's role:

"The department's aim is to advance the interests of Australia and Australians internationally... The department's goals are to: assist Australian travellers and Australians overseas..."

Note the use of the word assist. Similarly if you visit he Attorney General's web site you find:

"The Attorney-General's Department serves the people of Australia by providing essential expert support to the Government in the maintenance and improvement of Australia's system of law and justice."

Serves the people of Australia? You could understand why then an Australian citizen returning home might wonder if they have not landed in the wrong country. Consider the following itinerary:

1) Leave the country
2) Legally enter and visit a foreign nation
3) Be kidnapped by the military of a third nation
4) Be held illegally, without charge for two years
5) Be tortured during this time
6) Receive NO ASSISTANCE from DFAT
7) Despite DFAT's failings, be released and allowed to go home
8) Have the Attorney General (AG) tell you that you cannot profit from telling your story

Sound unlikely. Well this, as we are all aware, is a true story. The last part, still being acted out, is particularly interesting.

"At this point in time there is no evidence ... that Mr Habib has committed a crime in Australia under Australian jurisdiction, so we have no intention to arrest him when he arrives in Australia," Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said.

Right, clear enough; no evidence, no charge, no crime surely. Basic legal process (and there are plenty of lawyers in the Howard Cabinet) tells us first there is a charge with a presumption of innocence then a trial and finally a guilty or innocent verdict.

Well it seems Phillip Rodduck knows better. He has asked lawyers investigate whether the new Proceeds of Crime legislation could be used to stop Mr Habib from selling his story.

"There is potential for the legislation to cover this. If he is paid for his story on his treatment in Guantanamo Bay, the government will examine closely the implications."

He has not been charged. How can he have committed a crime? Simple, he can't. The role of the AG is to promote the use of law not to indulge in political fantasy.

Is it possible the AG simply wants to gag Mr Habib? DFAT and the AG have failed to perform there duties, they have sacrificed the rights of an Australian citizen for their own political ends. I can understand why they might want to gag Mr Habib but we have the right to know the story.

In this case the Foreign Minister and the Attorney General have clearly failed to fulfill the mandate as defined by their own departmental web site. Are they going to stand up and admit these failings? Unlikely.

As for Mr Habib's story, bring it on.
0 Replies
 
Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 02:58 am
I'd assume that the shackles are to stop him from leaving the plane en-route, obtaining ammonium fertiliser, fuel, detonators and a drum to hold all those things, THEN smuggling them on board and detonating it, killing himself before he has a chance to actually meet his daughter before she like finishes high school.


I merely note that the Australian Parliament invited known war-monger, friend of terrorists and possessor of WMDs, a man known as 'George W Bush' to this country and didn't do a damn thing to check HIS credentials or past.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 03:08 am
Whilst ABC earlier reported that Habib leaves Guantanamo Bay, it is now said that:



Quote:
Habib release pending: US
January 28, 2005
From: AAP
MAMDOUH Habib's return to Australia from Guantanamo Bay was "pending", United States authorities said today, appearing to confirm reports the Sydney man is on his way home.

Neither the Australian or US governments would today confirm ABC reports that Mr Habib had left the military base in Cuba where he has been held in detention for more than three years without charge on suspicion of terrorism.

The US announced earlier this month it would release Habib without charging him, but would not say when.

However, an unnamed Pentagon source today told ABC Radio: "I can confirm that a transfer is pending".

He would not discuss further details of Mr Habib's flight home at this stage for security reasons.

Mr Habib's Australian lawyer, Stephen Hopper, said earlier today he had not been told of his client's release.

Nor had Mr Habib's family heard anything.

"The Australian Government hasn't confirmed any plans with us about Mr Habib's return," Mr Hopper told Sky News.

"We haven't been given any notice that he's about to return today or at any other time.

"The same position is for the Habib family - they haven't been advised of anything. So we just think this is media speculation and we will wait to hear from the Government before we start making arrangements," Mr Hopper said in Sydney.

"They have said he is due home soon and that's all we have been told."

A spokesman for Attorney-General Philip Ruddock would not comment on the whereabouts of Mr Habib.

"We won't be making any announcement of his departure or arrival until we tell the family," the spokesman told AAP.

"We'll be giving them some advance notice and we will make an announcement sometime after that.

"We're not going to nominate the day or the time of day that he is going to arrive."

The US Government is expected to announce details of Mr Habib's return home only after he has been reunited with his family.

Mr Habib's sister, Sally, said his family had gathered in Sydney ahead of his anticipated release and hoped to bring Mr Habib's parents from Egypt to join them.

"I'm very happy about it and excited," Sally, who has not seen her brother for four years, told ABC Radio.

"Actually I don't believe it until I see him."

When he got home she would tell him "just that I missed him so much and that I'm very happy that he is back. We all miss him too much".

Mr Habib's American lawyer, Michael Ratner, president of the Washington-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, said the Australian Government faced serious questions about whether it had acted properly to protect their citizen's rights.

"I think in their anxiousness to bend over backwards to the US they probably did not defend Mr Habib's rights adequately."

"People in Australia should be extremely upset about that treatment."
Source
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 04:44 am
Quote:
In one instance of the torture alleged by Mr Hopper, a prostitute stood over Mr Habib and menstruated on him.


Torture??? Humiliating, yes. Life threatening, definitely not. I am sure that those men, whose last living view of the world was the sight of blood spurting out of their carotid arteries, would have much rather been subjected to a prostitute menstruating over them.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 05:06 am
Pardon?

What men?

This a person ALLEGED to have been involved with training with Al Queada - nothing has been proved against him.

This despite years in detention with no trial - or indeed real charges.

You consider this treatment of him - the alleged menstruation - to have been reasonable?
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 05:29 am
Quote:
Oct 5 - Mr Habib is arrested by Pakistani police, suspected of training with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.


Quote:
July - Media reports that Mr Habib raised money for a blind cleric detained in the US on terrorism charges, and that he had been in touch with convicted terrorists in the 1990s


Quote:

"The specific criminal terrorism offences of being a member of, training with, funding or associating with a terrorist organisation such as al-Qaeda did not exist under Australian law at the time of Mr Habib's alleged activities," he said.

"For this reason, on the evidence and advice currently available to the government, it does not appear likely that Mr Habib can be prosecuted for his alleged activities under those Australian laws."

But, he said, Mr Habib remained of security interest because of his former associations and activities.


Apparently, Mr. Habib has allegedly consorted with terrorist associations. He cannot be prosecuted because Australia did not have a law against terrorism at the time Mr. Habib was involved with those groups.

Dlowan, this is a very ticklish situation. There are groups, all over the world, whose prime motive is to destroy western civilization, as we know it. Habib was safe from prosecution, only because of the timing of the Australian laws. That makes him no less dangerous.

The civilized world is fighting a war, unlike anything that has been fought before, in the history of the world.

We had a case in Florida, where a college professor was charged with funnelling money to terrorists groups. It took years to have him arrested.
In the meantime, he was continuting his terrorist activities.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2003/02/21/al_arian/

Yes, we are going to make mistakes. We are going to fall over our feet. But, in the end, we need to root out this cancer that is infecting the entire world.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 05:33 am
Mr Stillwater wrote:
I'd assume that the shackles are to stop him from leaving the plane en-route, obtaining ammonium fertiliser, fuel, detonators and a drum to hold all those things, THEN smuggling them on board and detonating it, killing himself before he has a chance to actually meet his daughter before she like finishes high school.....


As well as the US government requiring that he be shackled, they refused to let the plane transporting him to fly over US air space AND expected the Australian government to cough up for the cost of the flight! My god, what do they do to anyone prosecuted & found guilty? Shocked
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 05:41 am
Phoenix

Those allegations have not been proved. Surely after 3 years of detention, torture & abuse they would have gotten something more concrete out of him than these allegations & media reports?
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 05:56 am
" Habib was safe from prosecution, only because of the timing of the Australian laws. That makes him no less dangerous."

Huh? What about American laws?

"Yes, we are going to make mistakes. We are going to fall over our feet. But, in the end, we need to root out this cancer that is infecting the entire world."

By matching it in evil? Who will then be the cancer?
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 06:00 am
Rally to be held for Habib in Sydney's west
January 29, 2005/the AGE


A welcome home rally will be held for released Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib in Sydney's west tomorrow.

Mr Habib stepped off a government-chartered Gulfstream jet at Sydney airport this afternoon before being flown by light plane to Sydney's suburban Bankstown airport.

Arrested in Pakistan in October 2001 and transferred via Egypt to the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in May 2002, Mr Habib has been accused of training with al-Qaeda and having prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks.

He was detained without charge, and the Australian government today said it was unlikely he would face charges here.

His release leaves Adelaide man David Hicks as the only Australian held in Guantanamo Bay. Hicks is awaiting a military commission hearing on terrorism related charges.

Tomorrow's rally, organised by the Justice for Hicks and Habib Campaign, will start at 11am (AEDT) at Paul Keating Park, Bankstown.

Campaign spokesman Marlene Obeid said it was unlikely Mr Habib or his family would attend the rally.

"We're not expecting (them) to attend but it will be the (Bankstown) community's way of welcoming him home and showing our support," she said.

"I know that many who have viewed events relating to his arrest, imprisonment and torture over the years will be joining the welcoming party at Bankstown."

Speakers from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and Bankstown community organisations are expected to address the crowd.

"This event is also intended to demonstrate to (federal) Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and other authorities, both state and federal, that Mr Habib is not alone: we believe he is innocent of all (allegations) directed at him and that he deserves justice at all levels of the law," Ms Obeid said.

- AAP
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 06:04 am
Quote:
You consider this treatment of him - the alleged menstruation - to have been reasonable?


Reasonable? In the best of all possible worlds, of course not. You have a situation though, where there are terrorist cells, out to kill the "infidels", all over the world. One of the most important thing is for the authorities is to get information about the activities of these cells, so that the cells can be rooted out and destroyed.

One way to obtain information from hardened men, who are trained to keep silent about their activities, is to "soften them up". Humiliation is one way to do it. It is not life threatening.....................it isn't even damaging to the body.

Let us assume that you were an officer in a facility where men, who were believed to have ties with terrorism, were being held. You knew that there were foul deeds afoot by the terrorist cells. How would YOU go about obtaining information from these people?

It always amazes me about how people in the western world get so worked up about the "terrible mistreatment" of the alleged terrorists. Yet, you don't hear much anger towards the terrorists who have killed through suicide bombings, or cut the heads off innocent people. Why is that?
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 06:07 am
Phoenix

Do you honestly think that 3 whole years buried in Guantanamo Bay is reasonable treatment of someone "alleged" to have links to a terrorist organisation?
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 06:19 am
msolga- The big problem is that we have no real way of knowing just how serious the allegations were. All we know is what we have read in the papers, and I really don't completely trust the veracity of what we read there.

I would suspect that some of the information about this man was "classified". (not allowed to be given out to anyone but those who have security clearance.)

So, because of that, I really cannot evaluate as to whether his incarceration was "reasonable" or not. And neither can anyone, except the people who know the entire story.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 06:43 am
That's right, Phoenix, we only know about the allegations. Nothing has been proved. But he has been treated as if guilty.
The problem here is that Mr Habib, though an Australian citizen, has received no support from the Australian government during his incarceration. Furthermore the Australian government has denied knowledge of his torture, despite US documents stating the opposite. In it's blind support of US government policies & actions, our government appears to have done this man a grave disservice. It might as well have forgotten that he existed at all, for the past 3 years. (During the same period the Oz government has intervened on behalf of Australians accused of drug offences in Asia.)
This is what is making many of us so very angry. That our government is so blindly subservient to the US government's position on terrorism that it fails to uphold the basic rights of it's own citizens. (David Hicks is still in Guantanamo Bay & will soon be tried.) Now it appears that there'll be government pressure to prevent Mr Habib from giving his side of the story to the media. Outrageous!
0 Replies
 
 

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