WikiLeaks Publishes Guantanamo Bay files leak

WikiLeaks Publishes Guantanamo Bay files leak ... 24/04/2011 History

Keywords:#Afghan, #Afghanistan, #Al_Jazeera, #Al-Qaeda, #American, #Arab, #Arab_Spring, #Australian, #BBC, #Bradley_Manning, #British, #CEO, #CIA, #CNN, #Chelsea_Manning, #Collateral, #Collateral_Murder, #Cuba, #DOJ, #Ecuador,, #Europe, #Foreign_Ministry, #GMT, #Glenn_Greenwald, #Google, #Guantanamo, #Guantanamo_Bay, #Guardian, #HM, #Haji, #Hajj, #Human_Rights, #Internet, #Iraq, #Israel, #Jewish, #Julian_Assange, #Laura_Poitras, #Lenin, #Lenín_Moreno, #London, #Media, #Metropolitan, #Military, #Murder, #NPR, #Nations, #New_York, #New_York_Times, #Newsweek, #Norfolk, #Pakistan, #Pentagon, #Reddit, #Reporters_Without_Borders, #Reuters, #Semitic, #September, #Sheikh, #Sweden, #Swedish, #Taliban, #Task_Force, #The_Guardian, #Theresa_May, #Times, #Trump, #Twitter, #UK, #US, #United_Nations, #United_States, #Vogue, #Western, #WikiLeaks, #al-Qaeda

The Guantánamo Bay files leak (also known as The Guantánamo Files, or colloquially, Gitmo Files) began on 24 April 2011, when WikiLeaks, along with several independent news organizations, began publishing 779 formerly secret documents relating to detainees at the United States' Guantánamo Bay detention camp established in 2002 after its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The documents consist of classified assessments, interviews, and internal memos about detainees, which were written by the Pentagon's Joint Task Force Guantanamo, headquartered at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The documents are marked "secret" and NOFORN (information that is not to be shared with representatives of other countries).
Media reports on the documents note that more than 150 innocent Afghans and Pakistanis, including farmers, chefs, and drivers, were held for years without charges. The documents also reveal that some of the prison's youngest and oldest detainees, who include Mohammed Sadiq, an 89-year-old man, and Naqib Ullah, a 14-year-old boy, suffered from fragile mental and physical conditions. The files contain statements from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attacks, who said that al-Qaeda possessed nuclear capacity and would use it to retaliate for any attack on Osama bin Laden.
Source of the leak
The New York Times said it received the documents from an anonymous source other than WikiLeaks, and it shared them with other news outlets such as NPR and The Guardian. WikiLeaks suggested on Twitter that the source might be Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former associate. WikiLeaks noted that "our first partner, The Telegraph, published the documents at 1:00 AM GMT, long before NYT or Guardian." Reuters speculated that the original source of the leak may have been Chelsea Manning, a United States soldier then known as Bradley Manning, who was detained for allegedly having leaked other material to WikiLeaks. The Guardian reported that "the Gitmo files are the fifth (and very nearly the final) cache of data that disaffected U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning is alleged to have turned over to the WikiLeaks website more than a year ago." Before the time of Manning's alleged leak, WikiLeaks was already being reported and rumored to have these documents.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said the documents remained legally classified despite the leaks. It informed the lawyers who represent the prisoners in Guantanamo that they were not allowed to read the documents, which have been published by The New York Times and other major media outlets.
The U.S. government issued a statement: "It is unfortunate that The New York Times and other news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by WikiLeaks concerning the Guantanamo detention facility." The documents seem to be "Detainee Assessment Briefs" (DABs) written between 2002 and 2009 and "may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee."
Notable elements
The Guardian noted that, despite the government's claim of having detained dangerous militants, the files, which covered almost all the prisoners held since 2002, revealed an emphasis of holding people to extract intelligence. Although many prisoners were assessed as not posing a threat to security, they were nonetheless detained for lengths of time.
The files showed that nearly 100 detainees had been diagnosed with depressive or psychotic illnesses. The United States tried to retain British nationals and legal residents, such as Jamal al-Harith and Binyam Mohamed, for intelligence value, although its agents knew neither were members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda, and Mohamed had been tortured, so any "evidence" he provided was suspect due to that fact.
The Guardian noted that the files revealed that the U.S. relied strongly on evidence obtained from a relatively few number of detainees, most of whom had been tortured. One detainee made allegations against more than 100 other detainees, so many that his accusations should have been considered suspect. The U.S. issued guidance to its interrogators that was based on assumptions of threat based on flimsy associations – through attendance at particular mosques, stays at certain guest houses in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and other elements.
The Guantanamo Files revealed that Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera journalist and cameraman, was detained from 2002 to 2008, allegedly in part so that U.S. officials could interrogate him about the news network. According to the file, he was detained "to provide information on ... the al-Jazeera news network's training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network's acquisition of a video of UBL and a subsequent interview with UBL." He was considered to be "a HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies" and "of HIGH intelligence value."
Sami al-Haji has said that he was beaten and sexually assaulted in detention. His lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, also legal director of the British organisation Reprieve, said that the U.S. had tried to force al-Haji to become an informant against his employers.
Threat by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Other documents cited Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attacks, saying that if Osama bin Laden was captured or killed by U.S. allies, an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell would detonate a "weapon of mass destruction" in a "secret location" in Europe. He said it would be "a nuclear hellstorm". By March 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded at least 183 times by the CIA, which held him in custody until September 2006, when he was transferred to Guantanamo. No such attack has occurred following the killing of bin Laden in May 2011. Al-Qaeda has vowed to retaliate.
WikiLeaks has said that, as with previous releases, at least as important as the content of the published documents is that readers should note the reaction of each media news outlet. For instance, WikiLeaks suggested " the first paragraph of these two stories about the same thing" by BBC and CNN.
The BBC version opened with the following statement:
Wikileaks: Many at Guantanamo 'not dangerous' – Files obtained by the website Wikileaks have revealed that the U.S. believed many of those held at Guantanamo Bay were innocent or only low-level operatives.
CNN stated:
Military documents reveal details about Guantanamo detainees, al Qaeda – Nearly 800 classified U.S. military documents obtained by WikiLeaks reveal extraordinary details about the alleged terrorist activities of al Qaeda operatives captured and housed at the U.S. Navy's detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The contrast between foreign and United States media was noted by several journalists, including Glenn Greenwald of Salon. He described the differences as "stark, predictable and revealing". He wrote, "Foreign newspapers highlight how these documents show U.S. actions to be so oppressive and unjust, while American newspapers downplayed that fact."
The material WikiLeaks published between 2006 and 2009 attracted various degrees of international attention, but after it began publishing documents supplied by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley), WikiLeaks became a household name. The Manning material included the Collateral Murder video (April 2010) which showed United States soldiers fatally shooting 18 people from a helicopter in Iraq, including journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. This material also included the Afghanistan War logs (July 2010), the Iraq War logs (October 2010), and the Guantánamo files (April 2011).
Controversy surrounding WikiLeaks reached its greatest intensity after Assange published a quarter of a million U.S. diplomatic cables, known as the "Cablegate" files, in November 2010, initially working with established Western media organisations, and later with smaller regional media organisations, while also publishing the cables upon which their reporting was based. The files showed United States espionage against United Nations and other world leaders, revealed tensions between the U.S. and its allies, and exposed corruption in countries throughout the world as documented by U.S. diplomats, helping to spark the Arab Spring. The Cablegate and Iraq and Afghan War releases impacted diplomacy and public opinion globally, with responses varying by region.
On 2 April 2019, Ecuador's president Lenín Moreno stated that Assange had violated the terms of his asylum, after photos surfaced on the internet linking Moreno to a corruption scandal. WikiLeaks denied that it had acquired any of the published material, and stated that it merely reported on a corruption investigation against Moreno by Ecuador's legislature. WikiLeaks subsequently wrote on Twitter that according to a source within the Ecuadorian government, an agreement had been reached to expel Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy and place him in the custody of UK police. The source stated that the expulsion from the embassy would occur in retaliation against WikiLeaks' tweet noting corruption charges against Moreno. On 5 April, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry denied the existence of any planned expulsion.
On 11 April 2019, the Metropolitan Police were invited into the Ecuadorian embassy and arrested Assange in connection with his failure to surrender to the court in June 2012 for extradition to Sweden. Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno stated that Ecuador withdrew Assange's asylum after he repeatedly violated international conventions regarding domestic interference. Moreno referred to Assange as a "spoiled brat" and "miserable hacker". British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked the Ecuadorean president, Lenin Moreno, for co-operation, and the British prime minister, Theresa May, said that "no one is above the law". The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said that Assange is "not going to be given special treatment ... It has got nothing to do with , it is a matter for the US".
On the afternoon of the day of his arrest, Assange was charged with breaching the Bail Act 1976 and was found guilty after a short hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Judge Michael Snow said Assange was "a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest" and he had "not come close to establishing reasonable excuse". Assange was remanded to HM Prison Belmarsh, and on 1 May 2019 he was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to 50 weeks imprisonment. The judge said he would be released after serving half his sentence, subject to other proceedings and conditioned upon committing no further offences. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a statement through the website of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights that the verdict contravened "principles of necessity and proportionality" for what it considered a "minor violation". Assange appealed his sentence, but dropped his appeal in July.
Since his arrest at the embassy, Assange has been incarcerated in HM Prison Belmarsh in London.
After examining Assange on 9 May 2019, the United Nations special rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Nils Melzer, concluded that "in addition to physical ailments, Mr Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma." The British government said it supported the important work of the rapporteur's mandate but disagreed with some of his observations. In a later interview, Melzer criticised the "secretive grand jury indictment in the United States", the "abusive manner in which Swedish prosecutors disseminated, re-cycled and perpetuated their 'preliminary investigation' into alleged sexual offences", the "termination by Ecuador of Mr Assange's asylum status and citizenship without any form of due process", and the "overt bias against Mr Assange being shown by British judges since his arrest". He said the United States, UK, Sweden and Ecuador were trying to make an example of Assange. He also accused journalists of "spreading abusive and deliberately distorted narratives". Shortly after Melzer's visit, Assange was transferred to the prison's health care unit.
On 13 September, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange would not be released on 22 September when his prison term ended, because he was a flight risk and his lawyer had not applied for bail. She said when his sentence came to an end, his status would change from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.
On 1 November 2019, Melzer said that Assange's health had continued to deteriorate and his life was now at risk. He said that the UK government had not acted on the issue. In November 2019, an open letter signed by more than 60 doctors said Assange's health was declining to an extent that he could die in prison. On 30 December 2019, Melzer accused the UK government of torturing Julian Assange. He said Assange's "continued exposure to severe mental and emotional suffering ... clearly amounts to psychological torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
On 17 February 2020, a group of 117 medical doctors from 18 countries published an open letter in the medical journal The Lancet in which they described Assange being in a "dire state of health" and called for an end to his "torture and medical neglect" which could lead to his death. On the same day, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) media freedoms group posted a separate petition which accused the Trump administration of acting in "retaliation for (Assange's) facilitating major revelations in the international media about the way the United States conducted its wars". The petition said, Assange's publications "were clearly in the public interest and not espionage". Australian MPs Andrew Wilkie and George Christensen visited Assange and pressed the UK and Australian governments to intervene to stop him being extradited.
On 25 March 2020, Assange was denied bail after Judge Baraitser rejected his lawyers' argument that his imprisonment would put him at high risk of contracting COVID-19. She said Assange's past conduct showed how far he was willing to go to avoid extradition.
Assange describes himself as an advocate of information transparency and market libertarianism. He has written a few short pieces, including "State and terrorist conspiracies" (2006), "Conspiracy as governance" (2006), "The hidden curse of Thomas Paine" (2008), "What's new about WikiLeaks?" (2011), and the foreword to Cypherpunks (2012). Cypherpunks is primarily a transcript of the World Tomorrow episode eight two-part interview between Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn, and Jérémie Zimmermann. In the foreword, Assange said, "the Internet, our greatest tool for emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen". He also contributed research to Suelette Dreyfus's Underground (1997), and received a co-writer credit for the Calle 13 song "Multi_Viral" (2013).
Assange's book, When Google Met WikiLeaks, was published by OR Books on 18 September 2014. The book recounts when Google CEO Eric Schmidt requested a meeting with Assange, while he was on bail in rural Norfolk, UK. Schmidt was accompanied by Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas; Lisa Shields, vice-president of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Scott Malcomson, the communications director for the International Crisis Group. Excerpts were published on the Newsweek website, while Assange participated in a Q&A event that was facilitated by the Reddit website and agreed to an interview with Vogue magazine.
In her 2017 documentary on Assange, Laura Poitras included a scene of him calling the Swedish sexual assault allegations a "radical feminist conspiracy"—a comment which she says led them to part ways. In 2011, Assange criticised a Private Eye article for portraying WikiLeaks contributor Israel Shamir as anti-Semitic. According to editor Ian Hislop, Assange called the article "an obvious attempt to deprive of Jewish support and donations" and went on to point out that several journalists involved were Jewish. On 1 March 2011, Assange released a statement in which he said,
Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase. In particular, 'Jewish conspiracy' is completely false, in spirit and word. It is serious and upsetting. We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff, just as we treasure the support from pan-Arab democracy activists and others who share our hope for a just world.
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