Surprise hearing for ex-Guantánamo prisoner, Adel al Gazzar, re-arrested by Egyptian military

November 25, 2011

Egypt’s military authorities yesterday unexpectedly fast-tracked court proceedings for an ex-Guantánamo detainee who was imprisoned on his return home to Egypt in June.

Adel al Gazzar was first detained by the US in 2001 after being injured while volunteering with the Red Crescent in Afghanistan and was severely tortured before being sent to Guantánamo Bay. Although the American authorities soon realised their mistake and cleared him for release, he remained there for eight years due to concerns over how he would be treated on his return to Egypt. Following this year’s toppling of President Mubarak, Adel – who, on release, had been transferred to Slovakia – returned to Egypt hoping to be finally reunited with his family. However, he was immediately arrested on an in absentia sentence he had received under the Mubarak regime – while he had been in Guantánamo and entirely unaware of the proceedings.

Yesterday, Egypt’s military authorities, who are under huge pressure from a fresh wave of protests, abruptly brought forward Adel’s much-delayed appeal hearing, with a judgment now expected on 6 December. Due to the flimsiness of the charges against him, which are based on confessions extracted from co-defendants by torture, Adel’s lawyers are hopeful that his Mubarak-era sentence will be overturned on appeal. Reprieve is calling on Egypt’s Military Prosecutor to grant him compassionate release based on the fact that he has already undergone nearly a decade of imprisonment without charge or trial. Katie Taylor, Caseworker on Reprieve’s Life After Guantánamo project, said: “Adel thought he was going home to a new, free country, but his hopes, like those of the Egyptian people, are now hanging by a thread. If the Egyptian military wants to show that it really has moved on from the Mubarak era, it cannot continue to impose sentences built on trumped-up charges and based on torture evidence.” ENDS Notes to editors 1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0)20 7427 1082 / +44 (0)7791 755 415 2. For further information on Adel’s case, please see Reprieve’s website: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/adelalgazzar/

3. 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 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.