- Omar Deghayes
Omar Amer Deghayes Born November 28, 1969
Detained at Guantanamo ISN 727 Alleged to be a member of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group Charge(s) no charge (extrajudicial detention) Status repatriated to the United Kingdom Occupation law student
Omar Deghayes (born November 28, 1969) is a Libyan citizen with residency status in the United Kingdom, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He currently lives in the United Kingdom. After his arrest, he was taken into US military custody and sent to Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in Cuba. His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 727.
Deghayes' father was a union organiser who was executed in Libya while Omar was still a child. After this the family moved to the United Kingdom as refugees. They lived in Brighton According to the Birmingham Post Deghayes was a "laws graduate"; he studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and later studied in Huddersfield.
His family has mounted a campaign to free Deghayes. This campaign has received the support of the Brighton Argus newspaper and all six Members of Parliament in Sussex, where Omar Deghayes resided for many years and where his family still live.
In 2006, the British High Court considered whether the United Kingdom government should petition the United States government, on behalf of Guantánamo detainees who had legal residency status. The High Court concluded that they did not have the authority to make recommendation in the area of foreign affairs. They also called the evidence that the British residents were being tortured was "powerful".
The British government requested his release in August 2007, citing new openness on the part of the American administration. He was released on 18 December 2007; on his return to Britain, he was arrested under a Spanish warrant and has been released on bail while his case is considered.
The "Save Omar" campaign has stated that Deghayes, who had moved temporarily to Pakistan with his Afghan wife and child, was arrested, along with his family, by bounty hunters in Pakistan and taken to Bagram Theater Internment Facility. His wife and child were later released.
Deghayes has claimed that Guantanamo guards held him down and sprayed pepper spray directly into his eyes. Deghayes says that they then rubbed a rag soaked in pepper spray into the cornea of his right eye, which had already been weakened by a blow he received when he was a child. He says that he is now blind in that eye.
According to Deghayes's account: "...troops marched into his cellblock 'singing and laughing' before spraying his face with mace and digging their fingers into his eyes as an officer shouted 'More! More.' ...My eye has gone a milky white color ... After all I have been through in my life to save it."
The DoD declined to comment on specific abuse claims. However, DoD spokesman Lieutenant Commander Flex Plexico repeated his counter-claim that al Qaeda training manuals instruct al Qaeda members to lie about abuse, if captured, to trigger international outrage. He called Guantanamo:"...a safe, humane and professional detention operation..."
- Saw a soldier shoot a captive.
- Witnessed the partial drowning of captives.
- Saw a guard throw a Koran into a toilet.
- Saw a Moroccan/Italian named Abdulmalik beaten to death.
- Saw another captive beaten until the floor poured with blood, and he was left permanently brain-damaged.
- Was permanently blinded when a guard stuck his finger in his eye.
- Had excrement smeared on his face.
- Experienced sexual abuse, which was too traumatic to be described in detail.
- Was subjected to electric shocks.
- Was kept naked in the freezing cold and had freezing water thrown on him.
- Was starved for forty-five days.
- Received repeated death threats.
One of the allegations Deghayes faced was that American intelligence analysts had acquired a video-tape that identified Deghayes as one of the individuals in an Chechnyan rebel video tape. However, the opinion of Professor Tim Valentine of Goldsmiths College, a facial recognition expert, is that the face in the videotape could not possibly be Deghayes. It lacks the clearly identifiable marks left by a childhood injury.
According to an article by Clive Stafford Smith, Deghayes wrote:
- "I am slowly dying in this solitary prison cell, I have no rights, no hope. So why not take my destiny into my own hands, and die for a principle?"
Combatant Status Review Tribunal
Initially the Bush Presidency asserted that they could withhold all the protections of the Geneva Conventions to captives from the war on terror. This policy was challenged before the Judicial branch. Critics argued that the USA could not evade its obligation to conduct competent tribunals to determine whether captives are, or are not, entitled to the protections of prisoner of war status.
Subsequently the Department of Defense instituted the Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The Tribunals, however, were not authorized to determine whether the captives were lawful combatants -- rather they were merely empowered to make a recommendation as to whether the captive had previously been correctly determined to match the Bush Presidency's definition of an enemy combatant.
Summary of Evidence memo
- The detainee is a member of al Qaida and associated with the Taliban:
- The detainee traveled to Afghanistan with a fake passport.
- The detainee stayed at the guesthouse of a senior al Qaeda leader.
- The detainee is a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
- The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is a terrorist organization.
- The detainee was filmed in an Islamic extremist training video.
Administrative Review Board hearing
Detainees who were determined to have been properly classified as "enemy combatants" were scheduled to have their dossier reviewed at annual Administrative Review Board hearings. The Administrative Review Boards weren't authorized to review whether a detainee qualified for POW status, and they weren't authorized to review whether a detainee should have been classified as an "enemy combatant".
They were authorized to consider whether a detainee should continue to be detained by the United States, because they continued to pose a threat – or whether they could safely be repatriated to the custody of their home country, or whether they could be set free.
First annual Administrative Review Board
The following primary factors favor continued detention
- a. Commitment
- In 1999, the detainee left England for Afghanistan in order to live in an Islamic society under Sharia law.
- The detainee is a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
- LIFG is identified as a terrorist organization in the Terrorist Organization Reference Guide.
- The detainee is suspected of appearing in a confiscated Islamic extremist military training video showing atrocities in Chechnya.
- The detainee went to Bosnia to join the mujahideen. The detainee enjoyed his experience in Bosnia and believed it was a good Muslim cause.
- Detainee's travel from Pakistan to Afghanistan was facilitated by a senior al Qaida Lieutenant.
- b. Training
- The detainee received small arms training during secondary school in Libya.
- The detainee received training at the Khaldan Camp after arriving in Afghanistan and then joined the fighters in 1999.
- c. Connections/Associations
- The detainee traveled to Afghanistan with a false passport.
- The detainee stayed at the guesthouse of a senior al Qaida leader.
- The detainee had a good relationship with Usama Bin Ladin.
- The detainee was the financial supervisor for operations at the Sanibel organization in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- Sanibel is identified in Executive Order 13224 as an organization that supports terrorism.
- The detainee was connected with senior LIFG operatives.
- d. Other Relevant Data
- The detainee said his views of Islam are similar to that of the Taliban.
- The detainee received two months of solitary confinement as punishment for assaulting a soldier at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
- The detainee was arrested by Pakistani authorities in Lahore, Pakistan on charges that he was al Qaida before being turned over to United States authorities.
The following primary factors favor release or transfer
- a. The detainee stated he could not be in the extremist training video because he was never in Chechnya, Russia.
- b. The detainee claimed to have no knowledge of Usama Bin Ladin or al Qaida.
- c. The detainee said he never worked for the Taliban while living in Kabul.
- d. The detainee claimed to have no knowledge of the September 11th attacks or any planned attacks against the United States.
Second annual Administrative Review Board
The following primary factors favor continued detention
- a. Commitment
- The detainee stated that in 1993 he went to Bosnia to join the Mujahedin and stayed in Bosnia for one year at a Mujahedin Army camp.
- A foreign government service reported transfers of two large sums of money involving the detainee and the Bahamas-based Bank al Taqwa. On 22 December 1994, the detainee and another individual deposited 225,774 United States Dollars into an account at Bank al Taqwa. On 25 May 1996, the amount of US$45,762 from that account was wired to the detainee.
- Al Taqwa Bank in the Bahamas is listed in Executive Order 13224, which blocks property and prohibits transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism.
- The detainee stated that he traveled to Afghanistan in the summer of 1999 using a fake British passport which he purchased for 1,000 British pounds.
- The detainee stated that he obtained airline tickets for 800 British pounds from an individual whom the detainee knew was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
- The detainee stated that he flew from England to Islamabad, Pakistan via Karachi, Pakistan, where he was met by a contact provided by an individual whom the detainee knew was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The detainee stated that he stayed for three days at the contact's home, was driven to Jalalabad, Afghanistan by the contact and then rented a ride to Kabul, Afghanistan.
- The detainee stated that while in Afghanistan he worked as a financial supervisor at the charity organization Sanibel.
- A former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group stated that Sanibil characterizes itself as a charitable organization, but Sanibil's first priority was providing support to the jihad activities of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
- Al-Aqsa Sinabil Establishment is listed in Executive Order 13224, which block property and prohibits transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit or support terrorism.
- A senior al Qaida operative stated that the detainee stayed at an al Qaida guest house in Pakistan in 1998.
- An individual stated that the detainee arrived in Pakistan in approximately 1998, joined the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group upon his arrival, and worked at the al-Sanabil Institution in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- A detained Libyan Islamic Fighting Group member stated that the detainee used to be a member of the LIbyan Islamic Fighting Group but did not know if the detainee received training.
- The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group is a foreign terrorist organization. Some members are aligned with al Qaida.
- An individual stated that the detainee joined the Taliban movement and worked for a short while at the al-Sanabil Institution until the 11 September 2001 attacks.
- An individual stated that the Ashara guest house was owned by al Qaida and used by al Qaida members from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq and Libya.
- b. Training
- A senior al Qaida operative stated that he facilitated the detainee's travel to a Libyan camp in Afghanistan.
- An individual stated that the detainee came to Afghanistan in 1998 and was trained at Samarkhil or Samardil Camp.
- A detainee of a foreign service stated that a Libyan Islamic Fighting Group camp was opened in the Samarkhil region near Jalalabad, Afghanistan in 1998.
- The detainee was trained by and received Professional Association of Diving Instruction certification from an individual who has been associated with al Qaida and has provided dive training to jihadists.
- c. Other Relevant Data
- The detainee stated that when the bombing began in Afghanistan, he was transported by truck with Taliban members from Kabul, Afghanistan to the Peshawar, Pakistan area and was later arrested in Lahore, Pakistan.
The following primary factors favor release or transfer
- a. The detainee stated that he did not know the individual who has been associated with al Qaida and has provided dive training to jihadists.
- b. The detainee stated that he had no knowledge of Usama bin Laden or al Qaida, had no prior knowledge of the 11 September 2001 attacks and never worked for the Taliban.
- c. The detainee stated that he was not connected to any terrorist groups, he did not attend any training camps and he has never engaged in jihad.
- d. The detainee stated that he would not accept anyone committing attacks similar to those of 11 September 2001.
- e. The detainee stated that he does not agree with the use of suicide bombers and car bombs.
- f. The detainee stated that if released he would like to go back to Brighton, England to work in his family's property business which his mother and brother are currently running.
On August 7, 2007 the United Kingdom government requested the release of Omar Deghayes and four other detainees who had been legal British residents. The UK government warned that the negotiations might take months.
Spanish extradition request
On his return, Deghayes and Jamil El-Banna were arrested and questioned, before appearing in court on a Spanish extradition warrant. He was freed on bail on 20 December, conditions of which include obeying a curfew and wearing an electronic tag.
On Thursday March 6, 2008 Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon dropped the extradition request on humanitarian grounds. Garzon based his decision on a medical examination made public on February 12, 2008. The report said Deghayes suffered from: "post-traumatic stress syndrome, severe depression and suicidal tendencies. Garzon ruled the two men's mental health had deteriorated so badly it would be cruel to prosecute them.
Torture claims investigation
On April 29, 2009, that Spanish investigating magistrate Baltazar Garzon initiated a formal investigation into whether confessions from Deghayes and three other former Guantanamo captives were the result of the use of abusive interrogation techniques. Deghayes and the three other men: Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Lahcen Ikassrien, and Jamiel Abdul Latif al Banna, had previously faced charges in Spanish courts, based on confessions they made while in US custody. Their charges had been dropped based on their claims that their confessions were false and were the result of abusive interrogation techniques.
Deghayes conducted an interview with the Guardian newspaper, published on January 21, 2010.
- Omar Deghayes v. George W. Bush
- Initial Reaction Force
- Detainee abuse
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- Amnesty International page devoted to Omar Deghayes, Amnesty International
- Save Omar Website archive of news articles, letters from Deghayes.
- British resident blinded at Guantanamo, lawyer says (.pdf), Report prepared for the Law Society, by the Press Association, February 17, 2005
- Omar Deghayes campaign builds Socialist Worker Online June 18, 2005
- Sister's Guantanamo strike fears, BBC, September 9. 2005
- U.S. Military Tube-Feeds 13 Gitmo Strikers, San Francisco Chronicle, September 10, 2005
- Revealed: the diary of a British man on hunger strike in Guantanamo, The Independent, September 11, 2005
- Behind barbed wire in Guantanamo, Newsday, October 3, 2005
- Detainee: They blinded me, Newsday, October 3, 2005
- Inmate's writings raise questions of identification, treatment at Guantanamo, Newsday, October 3, 2005
- Behind barbed wire in Guantanamo, originally published in Newsday, October 3, 2005
- Justice for Omar, The Argus, November 11, 2005
- London Demonstration: Justice for the British Residents in Guantanamo Bay,eyetopic.co.uk, January 21, 2006
- "Ex-Prisoners: Bagram more Horrible than Gitmo". Fars News Agency. 2009-02-27. http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8712101524. Retrieved 2009-02-28. mirror
- Omar Deghayes speaks to Panorama BBC, 13 July 2009
- Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo, documentary featuring extensive interviews with Omar Deghayes, Spectacle Productions, 2009
- Omar Deghayes: 'He was brought in manacled and hooded' The Guardian 14 July 2010
- The torture files: the interrogations (LC13)
Controversies surrounding people captured during the War on Terror Guantanamo Bay
CIA black site operations Prison and detainee abuse Prison uprisings
Deaths in custody Tortured Forced disappearances Reports and legislation Related media
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