John le Carré: Reprieve event

September 12, 2008

Image of a spotlight in a dark room

In A Most Wanted Man, John le Carré considers the “war on terror” and the horror of “extraordinary rendition.”

John le Carré will read from his novel, A Most Wanted Man and will speak on this subject. At the end of the event, the organisers will invite the audience to make contributions to enable Reprieve to continue its vital work.

Whilst both main party candidates for the US presidency have stated that they will close the prison in Guantánamo Bay if elected, this is barely the beginning of the battle against illegal detention in the “war on terror”. As terrifying as it is to admit it, closing Guantánamo is one of the easier solutions to the brutal extra-legal world created by the Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In addition to the 265 prisoners still held in Guantánamo, a further 27,000 people are imprisoned beyond the reach of the law in other prisons worldwide. The majority are held in prisons across Iraq, but at least 600 are held in a US-run prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. All of these prisoners lack even the minimal rights secured by the prisoners in Guantánamo, and are not being treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

In addition, hundreds – if not thousands – more prisoners constitute “America’s Disappeared” – subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and either delivered to the torture chambers of third countries, or held in secret prisons run by or overseen by the CIA.

Reprieve is a legal action charity, founded by human rights campaigner Clive Stafford Smith, which provides legal representation to those imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay and the many other secret prisons around the world.


‘This thriller exhibits his familiar strengths: superbly realised characters; a succession of knockout scenes nobody else could produce; and a distinctive ability to fuse social comedy and moral anger . . . Mesmerising.’ (Sunday Times )

‘I imagine this is the first time that le Carré has been mentioned in the same breath at Updike and Roth. They, after all, are Literary Novelists with a capital L and N, whereas Le Carré is . . . well. what is he? Actually he is sui generis. Or, rather, he is his own genre. Quite an achievement that.’ (Sunday Telegraph )

‘It is a fast-paced and entertaining book. Le Carré has constructed another one of his meticulous plots that satisfies in terms of theme, suspense and style. One is delighted by its satire, and moved by its insistence on the importance of doubt and the necessity of choosing responsibly at every moment.’ (Times Literary Supplement )

‘Exquisitely crafted’ (Daily Mail )

‘Le Carré’s eye is undimmed, his passion for his craft as strong as it ever was. He delivers a tale that few could equal and none will surpass.’ (Observer )

‘Bold, vigorous and extremely funny.’ (Evening Standard )

‘I think it’s very good’ (John Sutherland, ‘Front Row’, BBC Radio 4 )


Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’


PO Box 52742

London EC4P 4WS

Tel: 020 7353 4640

Fax: 020 7353 4641



Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner