Attorneys Clive Stafford Smith and Ahmad Ghappour could face six months in a US prison because of a letter they sent to President Obama explaining their client’s allegations of torture by US agents. Smith and Ghappour represent Binyam Mohamed, the British resident recently released after seven years in US custody, where he claims he was repeatedly tortured, first in a secret CIA prison and later at Guantanamo. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: This last story, an unusual development in the case of Binyam Mohamed, the British resident recently released after seven years in US custody, where he claims he was repeatedly tortured, first in a secret CIA prison, later at Guantanamo. Binyam Mohamed’s lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith and Ahmad Ghappour, could face six months in a US prison, The Guardian newspaper revealed last week, because of a letter they sent to President Obama explaining their client’s allegations of torture by US agents.
Officials from the Department of Defense who monitor and censor communication between Guantanamo prisoners and their lawyers filed a complaint against Mohamed’s lawyers for “unprofessional conduct” and for revealing classified evidence to the President. The memo the lawyers sent to Obama was completely redacted except for the title. It had urged the President to release evidence of Mohamed’s alleged torture into the public domain. Clive Stafford Smith and Ahmad Ghappour have been summoned before a D.C. court on May 11th.
I’m joined now in these last few minutes by Clive Stafford Smith, director of the British legal charity Reprieve.
Welcome to Democracy Now! Clive Stafford Smith, you’re afraid of being arrested if you come into this country?
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH: No, I’m going to come to the country, because I want to face the charges. I mean, the charges are, to my mind, frivolous, because — it may be confusing to your listeners when you say that we supposedly revealed classified evidence and then say it was all censored — it was all censored. There wasn’t one iota of classified evidence revealed. So the real question, I guess, here is why the government continues to cover up the evidence of Binyam Mohamed’s torture.
AMY GOODMAN: But please explain, because I think this can be very confusing, what it is they said you did in this letter to President Obama. You are Binyam Mohamed’s lawyer.
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH: Well, I wrote a letter to President Obama and attached to it a memorandum that was going to originally be the evidence that showed that Binyam was tortured. But that evidence we had to submit through the classification review process. So, ultimately, the two-page memo of evidence that Binyam had been tortured was all redacted, as you mentioned, so it was all blacked out. I mean, even to the President it was blacked out. And the only thing left in it was, you know, “In re: torture of Binyam Mohamed.”
What we were trying to do was get President Obama the information he needs to make a judgment as to whether the US should continue to cover up this evidence of torture. And it’s paradoxical that the President of the United States is not being permitted to make that judgment in a meaningful way.
AMY GOODMAN: So you will come to the United States for this May 11th hearing?
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH: Oh, my goodness, yes. I mean, I am, I will say, offended by this process, but nothing would keep me away. I want to clear both mine and Ahmad’s name. And I want the real issue to be why the government continues to cover up the evidence of Binyam’s torture, because how can it be that we, as Americans, are not allowed to know when our government officials have committed criminal offenses against people like Binyam Mohamed? That just makes no sense at all. And if, indeed, someone should be on trial here, it should be the people who tortured Binyam.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there. Clive Stafford Smith, thank you very much for this update.
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH: Thank you.