Test Case: Bush v Blair - Guantanamo and Rendition

So the British Government and the Bush Administration are at loggerheads over the fate of a British Citizen:

The British position is that he is a British Citizen and any extra-legal action against him (transfer to Gitmo or rendition to another country for interrogation under rules that would not be respected by the US (let alone an International Law-abiding nation :wink: ) would be unacceptable.

The US position seems to be that he is an International Terrorist and therefore the US can place pressure on the Zambian Government to render him to another authority for torture or worse.

Who is going to win this struggle over a British Citizen?

Would Bush even try this if it were an American Citizen?

Or maybe he could just do this:


Today’s update:

"The Observer understands that the Zambian authorities arrested Aswat about 10 days ago, and the Foreign Office has confirmed that officials immediately applied for consular access to a British national, assumed to be him. …

“Aswat’s family, who have been estranged from him for 10 years, said that Britain should be doing more to gain access to him as he could face a lightning extradition to the US. They point to the example of the British Zambian, Martin Mubanga, who was flown directly from Zambia to Guantánamo Bay in 2001 after the US alleged he had fought allied forces in Afghanistan.”

Is the US putting pressure on Zambia to deny access?

Where will he end up- in legal detention, or “rendered” for torture, or sent to Guantanamo?

I think that Guantanamo is out- the fact that Bush was forced to release all British Citizens, despite one of them being prepared for a tribunal, was too much of a loss of face to risk it again.

Rendition is probable but maybe, just maybe, the US might settle for due process.

Does no-one have a view on this?


"Gareth Peirce, the family’s lawyer, said: "In the light of the way the Americans have treated UK citizens held in custody in recent years the family is fearful their son may be extradited to the US to face torture.

“The family are desperate as the Foreign Office appears to be utterly failing in any representation of this young man’s interests … It seems extraordinary that our own consulate is getting nowhere. We are only too familiar with other cases where British citizens and those granted refugee protection by the British have been arrested in and removed from Zambia, Gambia and Pakistan to Guantánamo Bay.”

Maybe Blair is willing to let him go by default.

Or maybe not, as it has been announced that Aswat will be turned over to Britain.

This is someone who during questioning in Zambia described himself as being “very close” to Osama bin Laden, and when asked whether he was happy so many died as a result of the London bombings, replied “Are you also happy so many are dying in Baghdad?”. Apparently Mr. Aswat doesn’t see any irony in that statement.

Pjen should be asking why the U.S. Justice Dept. didn’t indict this man when they had the chance.

Instead he is more interested in fulminating against Amerika than in what Aswat might be able to tell authorities, and which might safeguard Britain against future attacks.


And who are you to suggest what I should be asking? :confused:

I am merely interested in a return to International Law, an ending to illegal detention camps like Bagram and Guantanamo and the avoidance of the appearance of Britain (or even the US) being complicit to torture via Guantanamo or rendition to another country.

Given that Martin Mubanga

was rendered from Zambia to Guantanamo, it does now seem that the US, Uk and Zambia have decided (if the FT article is accurate) to abide by International Law rather than by kowtowing to the CIA as in Mubanga’s case.

To reinforce my view: if Aswat can be prosecuted according to due process of law ijn either the UK or the US I would have no complaint. I suspect that Jackmannii** might have preferred the simplicity and illegality of rendition to Guantanamo or to another country. If he is to be transferred to the UK at least he will have the protection of due process and other protections under the European Convention on Human Rights.

There is a possibility that he will be taken into custody in the UK and then an attempt made to legally ‘render’ him to US ‘justice’ because the one sided extradition treaty between the UK and US appears to allow this with virtually no evidence adduced by US authorities to UK courts. This has yet to be tested under the ECHR in the current case of Abu Hamza- which seems to be headed for a European Appeal before the US can get its hands on him. We will then see what the European Court makes of the Extradition Treaty.

I repeat, charge him under a fair system or let him go. It’s the democratic way.

Another poster?

And who are you to make unfounded accusations? :dubious:

Now that your initial premise (that Britain would acquiesce to Zambia’s turning over Aswat to the U.S.) has been derailed, you continue to obsess about some fancied evil the U.S. might do this person.

Do you have any interest in what information he has that might prevent future mass killings in Britain? Wait, you’ve answered that one.

We all have our priorities.

Please keep us informed of your continuing efforts on the behalf of this close bin Laden associate. Perhaps with the right pressure his immediate release with profuse apologies can be secured, along with proper recompense for his inconvenience. A lifetime Tube pass and a “Mind The Gap” T-shirt would be a nice touch.

Why would sending him to the Guantanamo Bay rather than the UK extraditing him prevent further mass killings in London? Does the UK not have it’s own intelligence services, which has rather more experience in preventing terrorist bombings?

I did not suggest he be sent to Guantanamo.

I suspect that quite a few Britons, Londoners in particular, might be more interested in what vital intelligence Aswat may have that could prevent future mass murder, rather than have a priority of charging him ASAP or else releasing him.

What part of due process do you oppose.

The US has severely damaged its reputation for legality and democratic approaches by the use of Guantanamo and Extraordinary Rendition. This has invoved serious damage being done to British Citizens (now returned to the UK and living freely in the community although they were characterized by Rumsfeld as “the worst of the worst.”)

It is not surprising that supporters of International Law and Democratic procedures should be a little jumpy about any US interest in British citizens, whether accused of being associates of Bin Laden or not. May I remind you that being an associate of Bin Laden (or pointing out that more deaths have occurred in Iraq from illegal or questionable acts by the US and UK than have occurred in London, Madrid and New York put together) is not in itself an offence. As I say, if he has broken a law and can be brought legally to justice, then charge him. If not, leave him alone.

My point is that due process should be offered to all- it was and is up to the US authorities to attempt to prosecute this man (along with the illegal detainees in Guantanamo who are unfortunate enough to not come from a liberal democracy with leverage with Bush) using procedures that are recognized by International Law. If Bush chooses not to, then further alienation will result.

British law does not allow interrogation without reasonable suspicion of having committed a specific crime. Even if he were to be held under the Prevention of Terrorism act, he could only be detained for 14 days and would have the right to silence. After four days he would have to be brought before a magistrate and the police would have to show that they were interrogating him about a specific crime and not just interrogating him for information. The security services have very limited rights in interviewing people- the police often oppose their involvement if prosecution is being considered as it could contaminate the information need to secure a conviction. If the security services were admitted to be taking part in interrogations into a criminal matter, it might be seen as indicating that the police did not have the right to further interview the suspect as interrogation was going on that was outside the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

All these protections have been won to avoid the appearance or actuality of a police state- an admirable cause that our judiciary are working hard to maintain and our government are planning to oppose.

On a technical note, I believe the right to silence has been removed. Saying nothing can be used against you in court.

Especially if they’re riding the subways.

In a limited sense, yes. You still have the right to silence, but if you later give a different explanation for your behaviour as an excuse, the judge can allow it to be pointed out that you did not disclose that at the earlier opportunity. It would be up to a jury to decide whether this was pertinent to the guilt or innocence at issue. So the right to silence is mainatained to a large extent (I opposed this change when it was brought in, and still oppose it now- as I also oppose majority verdicts which are another travesty of justice.)

So what part of International Law and Democratic procedure are you willing to give up to be less jumpy on subways- due process?, jury trial?, defence lawyers?, Miranda?, an independent judiciary?, presumption of innocence?, rules on unlawful search and seizure? Please specify.

And on the unequal and unfair extradition process between the US and UK:



"On 31 March, David Blunkett, UK Home Secretary, signed an Extradition Treaty on behalf of the UK with his United States counterpart, Attorney General Tom Ashcroft, ostensibly bringing the US into line with procedures between European countries. The UK parliament was not consulted at all and the text was not public available until the end of May. The only justification given for the delay was “administrative reasons”, though these did not hold-up scrutiny by the US senate, which began almost immediately.

The UK-US Treaty has three main effects:

  • (1) it removes the requirement on the US to provide prima facie evidence when requesting the extradition of people from the UK but maintains the requirement on the UK to satisfy the “probable cause” requirement in the US when seeking the extradition of US nationals;

  • (2) it removes or restricts key protections currently open to suspects and defendants;

  • (3) it implements the EU-US Treaty on extradition, signed in Washington on 25 June 2003, but far exceeds the provisions in this agreement.

An analysis of the new UK-US Treaty - which will replace the 1972 UK-US Treaty - follows below, together with a number of relevant cases and issues that raise serious concern about the new agreement (and those between the EU and US)."
This was negotiated by our anti-libertarian Home Secretary of the time who kowtowed to US pressures in the paranoia following 9/11. It was and is a disgrace.

We don’t have subways in my community.

You need to address these questions to the residents of London, and while you’re at it, inquire as to whether their only concern at this point is that this suspect be charged or released as speedily as possible.

You said in your OP: “So the British Government and the Bush Administration are at loggerheads over the fate of a British Citizen:”

Will you acknowledge that you were wrong, and that your quarrel now is what you imagine the British government might be thinking of doing in this case?

No, the law is as it is and cannot easily be changed without a further embarrassing derogation from the ECHR. The residents and Blair’s Government have almost as little real input into this as the US Government would have in the attempted revoking Miranda or allowing unfair search and seizure.

No, I think that was the case given the failure to provide diplomatic support to the person. I would think that some deep thought went into the ramifications of Guantanamo or rendering and that the US backed off.

And, Jackmannii you still haven’t detailed which civil rights should be stripped from this man to make you feel that justice has been done.