Lawyers for the Guantánamo detainee whose case we documented in a previous episode of Boing Boing Video are appealing directly to Barack Obama to release classified information about his treatment while in US custody. They faxed a letter to the White House asking the president to review the case of detainee Binyam Ahmed Mohamed, who they claim was tortured "in truly medieval ways" for more than two years after "extraordinary rendition" to secret foreign prisons. Snip from NYT story:
Attached to the letter was a two-page memorandum outlining the alleged torture; the memorandum was first reviewed by the Pentagon, which redacted it, saying it contained classified information. A copy of the letter and redacted memorandum was provided to The Times by Mr. Mohamed’s legal team, which appeared at a news conference here on Wednesday to publicly press for his release and transfer to Britain, where he lived as a teenager and is a legal resident. At the news conference, one of the lawyers, Air Force Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley, said that Mr. Mohamed had been on a hunger strike since Jan. 5 and was being fed through a tube; she said that when she saw him two weeks ago, he was “skin and bones.”Guantánamo Detainee’s Campaign Reaches to Obama (New York Times)
The Pentagon confirmed that Mr. Mohamed was on a hunger strike, along with 40 other detainees. “We recognize it as a form of protest,” Cmdr. Pauline Storum of the Navy said Wednesday in an e-mail response to questions. She said that Mr. Mohamed “was in good physical and mental condition.”
Mr. Mohamed’s lawyers are also pressing for the details of his treatment to be declared unclassified, contending that what the government considers state secrets are not secret at all, having been revealed in news reports and in the work of investigations around the world. “To reach any other conclusion conflates national security with national embarrassment,” the lawyers say in their letter to Mr. Obama.
(...) The tortured he endured there “would make waterboarding seem like child’s play,” [Air Force Lt. Col. Yvonne] Bradley said. Court papers in the San Francisco lawsuit describe horrific abuse in overseas prisons. Mr. Mohamed claimed that during his detention in Morocco he was routinely beaten and that once his interrogators cut his genitals with a scalpel then poured a hot stinging liquid over the wound. He said he was frequently threatened with rape, electrocution and death.
Previously: Boing Boing Video: "OUTLAWED" excerpts, pt. 1 -- Guantánamo Detainee Who Survived Torture. (Thanks, Wesly Varghese)
Update: Boing Boing Commenter Stef says,
One of Binyam's lawyers is the truly remarkable, wonderful gentleman who is Clive Stafford Smith. Somewhat strangely, he's not named directly in the article, even though he signs the letter they so heavily reference. (He founded and is the Director of Reprieve.) The closing paragraphs of this letter, which serve to highlight how heavily censored the information provided to the President of the United States on this case is, are brilliant:
"[President Obama]…you should be aware of the bizarre reality of the process under which we operate: That you, as Commander-in-Chief, are being denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by US personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command. This is a state of affairs that you may wish to redress."
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.