Just in from Human Rights Watch and reported on Democracy Now! (and, see below, today’s LA Times):

Human Rights Watch announced Tuesday it has uncovered evidence that a Yemeni man being detained at Guantanamo Bay was originally picked up in Egypt three years ago during a business trip. More below:

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Continues Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

The man — who is an intelligence colonel in the Yemeni government — disappeared during his trip to Egypt and wasn’t heard from for 19 months. He believes he was kidnapped by Egyptian officers who then turned him over to the United States. He was taken to a prison in Afghanistan and later to Guantanamo Bay. Human Rights Watch said it is the first known example of reverse rendition – where a wanted person is seized in a foreign country far from any battlefield and then handed over to the U.S. for interrogation.

From Human Rights Watch:

Guantanamo: New “Reverse Rendition” Case

… The Human Rights Watch briefing, “Cairo to Kabul to Guantanamo: the `Abd al-Salam `Ali al-Hila Case,” details how al-Hila, a Yemeni intelligence colonel and businessman who had been involved in helping Arab Islamists in the 1990s, was first picked up by Egyptian authorities [in] 2002 … he was taken within ten days to Baku, Azerbaijan [Susan’s note: That can’t have been a good place.] … to the Bagram air base in Afghanistan [Susan’s note: Here, the torturers are Americans.], and, finally, sometime in mid-2004, to … Guantanamo [Susan’s note: The same.]. …  

Prior to detention in Cairo, al-Hila, a father of three, had been in daily contact with his family in Yemen. After his “disappearance” in September 2002, the family did not hear from him again until April 2004. Details of his whereabouts were not known until a letter al-Hila wrote was smuggled out of Afghanistan (a translation is reprinted in full in the attached briefing). … 

The Men With No Name: “Most of the 540 detainees in Cuba — including dozens of other Yemenis — have no outside legal representation” because they have no names.

Today’s Los Angeles Times reports it’s almost impossible for the men to get legal help (note the Times’s headline):

Case Allegedly Shows U.S. Practice of Secret Arrests

A Yemeni reportedly jailed by Egypt in 2002 apparently has been in covert American custody since, without legal recourse.

. . . “One thing that we’re trying to point out here is the way in which these reverse renditions occur entirely outside the rule of law,” said John Sifton, a New York-based lawyer for Human Rights Watch. There has been no extradition process and no ability to challenge the detention, he said.

“What we’re saying is … use existing legal principles and laws,” Sifton said. “They will work.” …

Human rights lawyers say Hila’s case highlights a major obstacle facing them in their bid to represent detainees like the Yemeni: The Pentagon refuses to confirm or deny whom it has taken into custody and is holding at Guantanamo Bay. Military officials will provide details about a detainee, including his name, only after his lawyers sue in U.S. District Court in Washington, where such cases are heard.

News accounts and legal filings indicate that detainees have been seized in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zambia, Pakistan, Thailand and elsewhere. But without a list of confirmed names, U.S. lawyers are unable to go to court. Most of the 540 detainees in Cuba — including dozens of other Yemenis — thus have no outside legal representation.

The LA Times article reports that the “United States had reason to suspect Hila.”

A colonel with Yemeni intelligence, he had spent the latter part of the 1990s working closely with some of the world’s most zealous Islamist fighters, said family members and other sources. …

But, guilty or not, these detainees deserve, at the very least, an attorney and preferably one who can communicate with them.

Then there’s due process and the outdated, quaint 17th-century concept of habeas corpus.

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