Military Prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld explains why he had to quit the Guantánamo commissions

December 2, 2008

This evening the BBC PM Programme broadcast a groundbreaking interview with Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, US Army, the prosecutor formerly assigned to Binyam Mohamed’s Guantánamo military commission.

He explains that he had to resign because of his concerns at the repeated suppression of evidence that could prove prisoners’ innocence. He went, he says, “from being a true believer to feeling truly deceived.”

“Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld is that kind of rare breed willing to put his morals above his own career. He has sacrificed his future in order to stand up for what is right,” said Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith, who represents Mr. Mohamed. “He provides a whole series of reasons why Mr. Mohamed should be immediately repatriated to the UK, where we might be able to find some genuine justice for him.”

Meanwhile, Vandeveld’s criticisms were reflected in Court in Washington DC yesterday, where U.S. District Court judge Emmet Sullivan, sceptical that the US government was complying with his order to produce exculpatory evidence in Binyam Mohamed’s case, instructed the government to provide a personal affidavit from Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates swearing under oath that all favourable evidence has been produced. The affidavit is due within ten days (on December 11th).

US continues to deny rendition of Binyam Mohamed

This carries the case to the highest levels of government, and Gates is not likely to file such a statement lightly. Indeed, he must be careful to avoid facing perjury or contempt of court charges.

“It is clear that the US government lawyers do not understand what the word ‘exculpatory’ means,” said Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith. “While I obviously cannot reveal what the classified evidence is, I can say that the US still refuses to admit that they took Binyam Mohamed to Morocco, much less that the Moroccans took a razor blade to his genitals at their behest.”

Reprieve has long maintained that the entire case against Mr. Mohamed should be dropped by the US Government, and that he should be returned to the UK, as requested by the British Government in August 2007. Mr. Mohamed is a victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture. He was initially held illegally in Pakistan for three months, which is where a British intelligence agent took questioned him; he was sent to Morocco by the CIA on July 21, 2002, where he was tortured for 18 months; he was then rendered to the secret “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan, where his torture continued. Since September 2004, he has been held in Guantánamo Bay where, last week, the Pentagon dropped charges against him, albeit promising to refile them after the election. All the supposed ‘evidence’ against him is the fruit of torture, and would be inadmissible in any court other than a US Military Commissions.


For further information, please contact Clive Stafford Smith (07940 347125;; or Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7427 1099.

Note 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.’

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