Mamdouh Habib to be released from Guantanamo Bay without charge

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Guantánamo is a city in southeast Cuba, capital of the Guantánamo Province. Most of the area's 208,000 inhabitants are employed in the local sugarcane and cotton wool industries. About 15 km away from the city lies the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, with its prisoner camps for alleged unlawful combatants captured in the "War on Terrorism."

Australian Attorney General, Philip Ruddock, has announced that the US is not charging Australian Mamdouh Habib and plans to release him from Guantanamo Bay, after three years of detention. Mr Habib, accused of aiding al Qaeda by the US, was unlikely to be charged over the accusation upon returning to Australia.

Recently enacted Australian laws could not be applied retroactively, according to Mr Ruddock, quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday. "Those terrorism offences are not retrospective and therefore cannot apply to Mr Habib's alleged activities and associations prior to his capture," he said.

Australian ABC Radio programme AM reported last week of fresh allegations that Egyptian born Australian, Mr Habib was inappropriately photographed in the presence of an Australian Government official, and describing bizarre and intricate tortures it is claimed he was subjected to, which he says caused him to make admissions he now regrets.

Mr Habib's US lawyer Joe Margulies, says in a News Ltd article, that Habib received electric shocks and was beaten, kicked and subjected to water torture while imprisoned in Pakistan and Egypt, and was further tortured in the presence of US and Australian officials at Guantanamo Bay.

According to Philip Ruddock, "It remains the strong view of the United States that, based on information available to it Mr Habib had prior knowledge of the terrorist attacks on or before the 11th of September, 2001. Mr Habib has acknowledged he spent time in Afghanistan, and others there at the time claimed he trained with al-Qaeda.

"We have requested the United States authorities to inform Mr Habib of their decision not to prosecute him and of the agreement to repatriate him to Australia."

David Hicks, now the only Australian detained at Guantanamo Bay, will face trial by a military commission in March on charges of attempted murder, conspiracy and aiding the enemy, according to a second Sydney Morning Herald article.


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