Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Guantanamo detainee from Germany

by Atlantic Review Mon Dec 5th, 2005 at 04:47:44 PM EST

Crossposted at Atlantic Review

One of the more than 500 detainees at Guantanamo is the 23 years old Murat Kurnaz, who was born and raised in Bremen in northern Germany. He travelled to Pakistan in October 2001, was arrested shortly afterwards and detained at Guantanamo Bay since at least January 2002, because a military panel ruled that he was a member of Al Qaeda. However, according to a March 2005 article in The Washington Post:

Evidence, recently declassified and obtained by The Washington Post, shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities. (...)

The Command Intelligence Task Force, the investigative arm of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Guantanamo Bay facility, repeatedly suggested that it may have been a mistake to take Kurnaz off a bus of Islamic missionaries traveling through Pakistan in October 2001. "CITF has no definite link/evidence of detainee having an association with Al Qaida or making any specific threat against the U.S.," one document says. "CITF is not aware of evidence that Kurnaz was or is a member of Al Quaeda."

According to a Wall Street Journal article from January 2005, Murat Kurnaz isn't an isolated case:

American commanders acknowledge that many prisoners shouldn't have been locked up here in the first place because they weren't dangerous and didn't know anything of value. "Sometimes, we just didn't get the right folks," says Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, Guantanamo's current commander."

According to the above mentioned Washington Post article, U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that the tribunals are "illegal, unfairly stacked against detainees and in violation of the Constitution" and

criticized the military panel for ignoring the exculpatory information that dominates Kurnaz's file and for relying instead on a brief, unsupported memo filed shortly before Kurnaz's hearing by an unidentified government official.

The Bush administration has appealed her decision. Currently the Court of Appeals contemplates the case. The next post in the Atlantic Review deals with attempts to limit the access of Guantanamo detainees to federal courts.

Murat Kurnaz is the son of Turkish Gastarbeiters and does not have German citizenship. Therefore the German government does not make diplomatic representations on his behalf. The Turkish government originally viewed Murat Kurnaz as "German-Turkish" and has shown little interest in pressuring the US government over Murat Kurnaz' case, writes Amnesty International.

David at Dialog International argues that "Murat Kurnaz is a man without a country, so he is in need of our support." He has written to his Senator in Maine and urges you to take action as well.

The The Washington Post prints an op-ed by a lawyer representing Guantanamo Bay prisoners:

In a wiser past, we tried Nazi war criminals in the sunlight. Summing up for the prosecution at Nuremberg, Robert Jackson said that "the future will never have to ask, with misgiving: 'What could the Nazis have said in their favor?' History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say. . . . The extraordinary fairness of these hearings is an attribute of our strength." The world has never doubted the judgment at Nuremberg. But no one will trust the work of these secret tribunals.

A very sad story. I wrote a diary over at dkos in March.I also got a letter to the editor published on the WaPo Op/Ed page.

The story never got traction in Germany. It is a shame.

by jandsm on Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 07:08:16 AM EST

thanks for the comment and writing a diary at dkos. Have there been other diaries about Murat Kurnaz? (The dkos search function has been down yesterday and is right now as well.)

I also read you letter to the editor, where you wrote about Kurnaz loosing his German residence permit. The court in Bremen ruled a week ago that the German authorities were wrong in removing his residence permit: Court Victory for Murat Kurnaz.

That link is from Dialog International, an outstanding English language blog on US-German relations, which has covered Murat Kurnaz extensively.

We at the Atlantic Review wrote about the struggle for the rule of law for the Guantanamo detainees, i.e. about the supreme court giving the detainees access to federal courts, then the administration and the Graham amendement against them...

So you are not alone.

Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 10:35:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thank you for this message. this is actually good news. I still find the inactivity by Bremen's senate embarassing.
by jandsm on Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 10:58:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the diary.  The dKos search function has never worked well for me, but I get good results from searching through google.  Here are a few links I've found.

Tale of Tyranny:  Murat Kurnaz
by DowneastDem posted Nov. 24, 2005

Senator Snowe's Letter
by DowneastDem posted Nov. 26, 2005

Tribunal convicts "terrorist" despite having no evidence
by Flash posted Mar. 30, 2005

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 03:20:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]