British resident Shaker Aamer has been freed from Guantánamo after more than 13 years behind bars. He was the last British resident imprisoned at Guantánamo. Aamer had been cleared for release since 2007, but the Pentagon kept him locked up without charge. During his time in captivity, he claims he was subjected to abuses including torture, beatings and sleep deprivation. At one point, he lost half his body weight while on a hunger strike. Aamer is en route to London where he’ll rejoin his wife and four children.
In Texas, 27 women detained at a for-profit immigrant detention center say they’re on a hunger strike to demand their immediate release. Most of the women are from Central America, which has seen a surge in migrants fleeing violence and abuse. They are held at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, as they apply for asylum. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency denies there is a hunger strike. This comes as another hunger strike by 14 South Asian asylum seekers held at Louisiana’s for-profit LaSalle Detention Center enters its 12th day.
In Turkey, police have raided and shut down the offices of television channels and newspapers ahead of Sunday’s national election. Police fired pepper spray and water cannons at protesters outside. Turkish journalist Mustafa Kilic, who works for one of the raided newspapers, spoke out.
Mustafa Kilic: “We came to work feeling as if we are criminals. We prepared today’s newspaper under police blockade. We have mentioned it in our stories. We are under police blockade. Psychologically, we cannot work, and that is how we prepared this newspaper for print. As for tomorrow’s newspaper, today the trustees came and talked to us and said, 'Go away if that's how you think.’”
In Yemen, Doctors Without Borders is seeking security guarantees after one of its hospitals was bombed by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition Monday. At least one nurse was injured in the strikes. Saudi authorities have denied their forces carried out the bombing. The attack in Yemen comes weeks after a U.S. gunship repeatedly bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing at least 30 people.
Meanwhile, an estimated 700 medical professionals have been killed in Syria since the war began in 2011. On Thursday, hundreds of medical workers staged a die-in near the United Nations building in New York City to protest the targeting of healthcare workers. Dr. Deane Marchbein of Doctors Without Borders spoke out.
Dr. Deane Marchbein: “I’ve worked in Syria. I’ve worked in support of Syria. And the Syrian people are asking, 'Has the world forgotten about us? Do they know what's happening? Do they know that people—that snipers are targeting doctors or nurses?’ This is horrible. It’s unacceptable.”
This comes as Secretary of State John Kerry meets with officials from nearly 20 nations, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, Britain, France and Germany, to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria. It’s the first time Iran is taking part in global talks on Syria after the U.S. stopped objecting to its involvement.
In Florida, a retired Tampa police captain accused of fatally shooting a man at a movie theater after a dispute about texting is reportedly planning to use Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law in his defense. Police say former Captain Curtis Reeves began arguing with fellow movie-goer Chad Oulson about his texting. Reeves claims Oulson then hit him in the face, although witnesses—including Reeves’ own wife—dispute that claim. Reeves’ lawyers plan to argue that the shooting was justified under the Stand Your Ground law because Reeves had “reasonable belief” his life was in danger. Both Reeves and Oulson are white.
Meanwhile, in Texas, a white police officer who is accused of fatally shooting an unarmed African-American man has persuaded a judge to throw out the case after arguing he is immune from state charges because he was working for a federal task force at the time of the shooting. Officer Charles Kleinert was employed as an Austin police officer in 2013 when he says he accidentally shot and killed Larry Jackson Jr. The officer began chasing Jackson after the man allegedly attempted to enter a locked bank and then fled. When Officer Kleinert caught up with Jackson, he says he meant to hit the man in the neck with his pistol. Instead, the officer fired his gun, killing Jackson. On Thursday, a Texas judge ruled the state court has no jurisdiction over Officer Kleinert in this case, because he had been investigating an unrelated bank robbery for his federal task force when he began the chase.
In Mexico City, the Museum of Memory and Tolerance has unveiled an altar to the journalists killed over the last decade ahead of this weekend’s Day of the Dead celebrations. At least 32 reporters have been killed in Mexico since 1992, making it one of the deadliest countries for journalists. Darío Ramírez of the human rights group Article 19 spoke at the unveiling.
Darío Ramírez: “It’s an altar that speaks for itself of a punishing silence, which undermines a society’s right to be informed. It’s a humble altar but with nationwide importance, which is clearly evident. The journalists who have been murdered and who have found no justice, it’s simply a reminder of what we are losing.”
In Washington, the Senate has passed a bipartisan budget deal to avert government default. The two-year budget includes cuts to Social Security disability benefits and Medicare payments to providers. New revenue would come from sales of U.S. oil reserves and the use of public airwaves for telecommunications firms. It will also increase military spending by about $25 billion for each of the next two fiscal years.
And the European Parliament has voted to support a nonbinding resolution that calls on EU member states to protect NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from extradition. On Thursday, the Parliament voted 285-281 to “prevent [Snowden’s] extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender.” Snowden celebrated the vote in a tweet, calling it a “game changer.”