Ex-Guantánamo prisoner seeks amnesty from Egyptian military

August 2, 2011

Reprieve is calling on Egypt’s Military Prosecutor to grant an immediate amnesty to Adel Al-Gazzar, a former Red Crescent volunteer erroneously held in Guantánamo for eight years and subsequently arrested on returning home to Egypt in June.

Adel remains imprisoned by the Egyptian military on the basis of an in absentia sentence handed down by the Mubarak regime in 2002, while Adel was in Guantánamo and unaware that the trial was even taking place. Due to the flimsiness of the Mubarak-era charges, Adel’s lawyers are confident that his sentence would be overturned on appeal. However, 50 days of the 60-day window during which Adel has a legal right to appeal have now passed and the Military Prosecutor continues to create arbitrary obstacles, effectively preventing him from challenging his imprisonment. Reprieve is alarmed by the Egyptian military’s apparent attempt to strip Adel once more of his legal rights, and is now calling on the Military Prosecutor to grant compassionate release on the basis that he has already endured nearly decade of unlawful imprisonment without charge or trial. While in US custody at Kandahar and then Guantánamo, Adel was subjected to torture – including routine beatings, exposure to freezing temperatures and sleep deprivation – and lost a leg to gangrene due to medical negligence.  Soon after Adel was sold into US custody, the US authorities realized that they had made a mistake and he was cleared for release. However, because the US deemed it unsafe for Adel to return to Egypt, he spent eight years in Guantánamo. He was eventually transferred to Slovakia where he was illegally imprisoned in an immigration detention centre for over six months. It was urgent concerns about his family that forced Adel returned to Egypt in June, despite the risk of re-arrest and imprisonment. Adel’s family has been left extremely vulnerable by his decade-long absence. His four children whom he had last seen as babies are now teenagers and his elderly mother recently suffered a cerebral hemorrhage which has left her paralyzed and requiring full-time care. Reprieve’s Life After Guantanamo Project Officer, Katie Taylor said: “Adel has already suffered far too much in one lifetime. He has been unjustly detained for nearly a decade, and as a result, has suffered permanent injury and chronic health problems and his family now stands on the edge of poverty. The Military Prosecutor has the ability to finally give Adel and his family the justice that is long overdue by granting him amnesty and releasing him.” ENDSNotes to editors 1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0) 20 7427 1082 / (0) 7791 755 415 2. Adel Al Gazzar was injured in a US airstrike while volunteering with the Red Crescent in Afghanistan, and subsequently sold from his hospital bed in Pakistan to American security agents for a bounty; he was then brutally tortured in Kandahar, subjected to medical neglect so severe it resulted in the amputation of his leg, detained in Guantánamo Bay for eight years without charge or trial, and detained in a Slovakian immigration detention centre upon his release from Guantánamo—again without charge or reason. He returned to Egypt to be reunited with his family, hoping that Egypt’s revolution would have led to a transformation in the Mubarak-era judicial process, but was arrested on arrival at the airport and has been imprisoned ever since. His lawyers’ efforts to submit a memorandum of appeal—a right guaranteed under Egyptian law—have been thwarted by the Military Prosecutor. Further information on Adel can be found here: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/adelalgazzar