Preacher seized by CIA tells of torture in Egypt

AN EGYPTIAN preacher who was seized by the CIA in daylight on a Milan street has revealed the details of 14 months of torture to which he says he was subjected after his “extraordinary rendition” to Egypt.
Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, described how Egyptian interrogators stripped him, shackled his arms and legs in a crucifixion position and then beat him and gave him electric shocks. He claimed they had twice attempted to rape him.
Now living in Alexandria, Nasr, 44, walks with a limp, is deaf in one ear and bears scars.
Last Friday the trial opened of 26 American defendants accused of kidnapping him on February 17, 2003, in an operation prosecutors say was coordinated by the CIA and Italian intelligence. None of the US defendants, a number of whom were identified by aliases, attended.
Nasr fled Egypt in 1988 after he was accused of being a member of Gama’a Islamiya, an Egyptian militant group that later carried out terrorist attacks. He denied the allegation and was granted political asylum in Italy. When he disappeared he was walking to midday prayers at a radical mosque where he was a part-time preacher.
He became a “ghost prisoner”, his arrest and detention confirmed to nobody. “I was out of history. My lawyer searched prisons all over Egypt and no one could find a trace of me,” he said. Continue reading Preacher seized by CIA tells of torture in Egypt

London student’s jungle war escape led to ‘rendition’ trap

Sunday Times, June 10, 2007, by Stephen Grey.

A BRITISH student who was caught up in fighting in Somalia has described how he fled for his life only to be arrested as a suspected Al-Qaeda member and then rescued by a British consul from a secret operation to transfer terrorist suspects to Ethiopia for interrogation.
Reza Afsharzadagen, 25, from north London, was among hundreds of refugees forced to flee battles last December between Islamic radicals who had seized power in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and Ethiopian soldiers trying to install a rival United Nations-backed government.
After dodging bombs from American warplanes deployed in support of the Ethiopians and trekking through jungle for 13 days, Afsharzadagen reached safety in Kenya. But there he was detained as a suspected terrorist and questioned for nearly a month without being charged.
He and three other British Muslims who were arrested – Shahajan Janjua, Hamza Chent-ouf, and Mohammed Ezzoueck, all from London – were eventually returned home and cleared of any suspicion of terrorist activity after the intervention of the Foreign Office. Continue reading London student’s jungle war escape led to ‘rendition’ trap

DISPATCHES – Monday JUNE 14, 2007

“Kidnapped to Order
Channel 4, UK, Monday, June 11, 2007 at 8PM UK

Dispatches exposes a new phase in America’s dirty war on al Qaeda: the rendition and detention of women and children. Last year, President Bush confirmed the existence of a CIA secret detention programme but he refused to give details and said it was over. Dispatches reveals new evidence confirming fiercely-denied reports that many of the CIA captives were held and interrogated in Europe. Those prisons may now be closed but the programme is by no means over, it’s just changed. A new front has opened up in the Horn of Africa and America has outsourced its renditions to its allies.Reporter Stephen Grey (author of Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Programme) investigates America’s global sweep for prisoners – obtaining exclusive interviews with former detainees who claim they have been kidnapped and flown halfway across the world to face torture by America’s allies.The film opens with an examination of the most notorious rendition story to date – the kidnap of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar. This month in Italy the trial opens of twenty-five CIA officers accused of snatching Omar from the streets of Milan in broad daylight and flying him to Cairo four years ago. Grey travels to Egypt to secure an exclusive interview with Omar who defies the warnings of his interrogators not to speak publicly about his treatment. He details the torture that was inflicted upon him in his fourteen-month detention and the number of other ‘ghost detainees’ he encountered – people who are being held in secret, without charge.The film then turns to Pakistan – one of America’s most significant allies in the ‘war on terror’. Since 9/11, the state’s intelligence services have apprehended over a five hundred people as terror suspects. Grey investigates what happens to the ‘disappeared’ amid claims that America pays Pakistan a bounty for every suspect they capture. Turning his attentions closer to home, Grey gains exclusive access to an official European investigation which has found evidence that CIA prisons housing al Qaeda suspects have also existed in Europe and reveals the interrogation techniques that have been used against such high-value prisoners. The Bush administration claim such techniques stop short of torture but Grey discovers that many in the CIA disagree and are concerned that using them may leave them open to criminal proceedings in the future and make the evidence gained inadmissible in a trial – preventing terrorists from being convicted in court.Dispatches then examines the new battleground of America’s war on terror – the Horn of Africa. Grey travels to Kenya, and Ethiopia to investigate allegations of mass renditions involving women and children – where prisoners thought to have al Qaeda connections have been illegally transferred from country to country for imprisonment and interrogation. Grey uncovers evidence of secret rendition flights on which suspects were flown from Nairobi into war-torn Somalia – a state with no effective law or government. Amongst the suspects were women and children – he hears a first-hand account from one Briton who was on one of the flights who describes being beaten, interrogated and finding himself in a prison cell opposite a woman and a five-year-old boy. Another woman who was rendered to Somalia describes being flown on to Ethiopia with other women and children – where one pregnant woman gave birth to her child whilst in detention.Dispatches questions the legality and effectiveness of America’s rendition programme and asks whether the way detainees have been interrogated will undermine the legal process to bring real terrorists to trial and conviction.

CIA ran secret prisons for detainees in Europe, says inquiry

by Stephen Grey
Friday June 8, 2007 The Guardian
The CIA operated secret prisons in Europe where terrorism suspects could be interrogated and were allegedly tortured, an official inquiry will conclude today.
Despite denials by their governments, senior Polish and Romanian security officials have confirmed to the Council of Europe that their countries were used to hold some of America’s most important prisoners captured after 9/11 in secret.
None of the prisoners had access to the Red Cross and many were subject to what George Bush has called the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation, which critics have condemned as torture. Although suspicions about the secret CIA prisons have existed for more than a year, the council’s report, seen by the Guardian, appears to offer the first concrete evidence. It also details the prisons’ operations and the identities of some of the prisoners. Continue reading CIA ran secret prisons for detainees in Europe, says inquiry

NEW

NEW PUBLICATION:

“Ghost Plane”

OUT NOW in the US and Canada with St Martin’s Press (Order)

OUT NOW in the UK with Hurst and Co. (Order)

in Australia / New Zealand with Scribe Publications

and Germany with DVA

This book is the result of my research over the last three years into the CIA’s rendition programme. More information soon.

For more information on the book please go to www.ghostplane.net

CIA still hiding 'ghost' captives

by Stephen Grey and Sarah Baxter, the Sunday Times

DOZENS of key terror suspects are still being held in unknown locations, despite President George Bush’s declaration that the CIA is no longer operating secret jails.
High-level detainees such as Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the September 11 ringleaders, are now in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba but there are still “ghost prisoners” among more than 6,000 who have been questioned by America and its allies since 9/11.
Their fate is among several unresolved issues raised by Bush’s new anti-terror legislation. His plans for military tribunals to try suspects are being held up by negotiations with leading Republican senators, including John Warner, chairman of the Senate armed forces committee, and John McCain, a favourite for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, insists that those accused should have access to the evidence against them and that torture should not be used. He is backed by Pentagon lawyers, who fear captured American soldiers will otherwise be vulnerable to mistreatment. Continue reading CIA still hiding 'ghost' captives

Twists and turns of 'rendition' scandal rivet Italy

By Stephen Grey and Elisabetta Povoledo International Herald Tribune, The New York Times
July 9, 2006 (Read the full text).

MILAN The veteran spy made a mistake worthy of an amateur.
On June 1, a senior Italian intelligence official placed a call from a public telephone booth to a fellow spy to discuss an investigation into the alleged kidnapping by the CIA of a radical Egyptian cleric in 2003.
The Italian spies were also under investigation, for complicity in the abduction of the imam, who was seized on a Milan street and sent to his native Egypt to be interrogated and imprisoned.
In a country where police officers and spies tap more than 100,000 phone lines each year, Gustavo Pignero, the former chief of military counterespionage at the Italian intelligence agency, apparently ignored the obvious – that investigators were listening in.

Italy Arrests 2 in Kidnapping of Imam in '03

Read full text

By STEPHEN GREY and ELISABETTA POVOLEDO, New York Times
Published: July 6, 2006
MILAN, July 5 — Two officials with the Italian intelligence agency were arrested Wednesday in the kidnapping of a radical Egyptian cleric here in 2003. It was the first indication that Italian intelligence agents might have been directly involved in what prosecutors say was an American-led operation to detain and interrogate the imam.
Prosecutors also sought the arrest of three operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency and an employee of the American military airbase at Aviano, Italy. Last year, Italian prosecutors charged 22 other Americans, who were employed by or linked to the C.I.A., with involvement in the abduction of the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr.
The government said it would “collaborate fully” with the investigation and expressed its “trust in the institutional loyalty” of the secret services. In the past, the government has denied any knowledge of or involvement in the kidnapping.

UK aided CIA with torture flights, says official report

Stephen Grey
Wednesday June 7, 2006The Guardian

An inquiry by Europe’s leading human rights watchdog will today name 14 countries which are involved in or complicit in the CIA’s programme of detaining terrorism suspects for transfer to countries where they may be tortured.
After a seven-month investigation, Dick Marty, chairman of the Council of Europe’s committee on legal affairs and human rights, will accuse Washington of adopting a legal approach which is “utterly alien to the European tradition” by organising the so-called extraordinary rendition of dozens of suspects.
In his report, which has been obtained by the Guardian in advance of its publication in Paris, Mr Marty accuses the UK of not only offering logistical support to the CIA operation but also providing information that was used during the torture of a terrorism suspect in Morocco.
Mr Marty, a Swiss senator and former state prosecutor, describes the involvement of the 14 European states as varying from providing staging points for CIA operations or stop-over airports for its jets, to exchanging information with the United States that has led to renditions or torture, to allowing the rendition of terrorist suspects from their soil. Continue reading UK aided CIA with torture flights, says official report

MI5 enabled UK pair's 'rendition'

(Watch Newsnight report)

Eight UK residents are thought to be held at Guantanamo BayTelegrams sent by the British security service led to the “extraordinary rendition” of two UK residents now in Guantanamo Bay, BBC News has learned.
Flight details sent to US authorities allowed Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil al-Banna to be arrested in Gambia.
The UK government has always said it opposes “extraordinary rendition” – secret flights taking terror suspects for interrogation in other countries.
The Foreign Office denies requesting the men’s detention.
Mr al-Rawi and Mr al-Banna were arrested at Gatwick airport in November 2002, BBC2’s Newsnight has learned.
British intelligence then sent US authorities a telegram saying one of them had been carrying an object that could have been used as part of an improvised explosive device.
The men were later released after MI5 found the device to be an innocent battery charger – but this time the US authorities were not informed. Continue reading MI5 enabled UK pair's 'rendition'