Thursday, 5 July 2012
Torture by proxy
Extraordinary rendition is thought to have begun in the mid-1990s under the authority of Bill Clinton’s US government. It was developed as a method to track down and dismantle militant Islamic organisations in the Middle East, particularly Al Qaeda, and rapidly escalated under the presidency of George W. Bush following the terror attacks in New York on 11 September, 2001. The number of people who have been subject to extraordinary rendition is not known, with estimates varying from 100 to several thousand. Up to 30 innocent men are thought to have been captured and transported after being mistakenly identified through what has been called "erroneous renditions," according to the Washington Post. Human rights groups say rendition is “torture by proxy” and argue transferring terror suspects to third-party countries known for brutal interrogation techniques is part of a deliberate strategy to avoid American legal standards. This is prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the US in 1992. A public inquiry into British security forces’ role in the mistreatment of terrorism suspects since 9/11 – including involvement in extraordinary rendition – was announced by the government in 2010. However, due to ongoing police investigations it was cancelled in January this year. In a statement, justice minister Ken Clarke said: "The government fully intends to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry, once all police investigations have concluded, to establish the full facts and draw a line under these issues."
Liverpool FC link
A private jet owned by Phillip Morse, vice-president of Liverpool FC’s parent company Fenway Sports Group, was hired to a firm working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) more than 55 times between 2002 and 2005. It was used to extraordinarily render terrorism suspects from locations in Europe to countries including Thailand, Malta, Egypt, Libya, Djibouti and Azerbaijan, where they were allegedly tortured during interrogation. In 2003, Morse’s jet was used to render a Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar from Italy to Egypt. Omar, who American authorities accused of plotting terrorism, was snatched by CIA agents on a Milan street in broad daylight. He was subsequently flown to Egypt and imprisoned in Tura, 20 miles south of Cairo, where he claims he was twice raped, suffered electro shock treatment and lost the hearing in his left ear due to repeated beatings. Omar was eventually released by the Egyptian government in 2007, after a state security court ruled that his detention was “unfounded”. An Italian judge later convicted, in absentia, 23 CIA operatives over the kidnapping.
This article first appeared in issue no.934 of The Big Issue.