Posted by: Lister | May 4, 2007

Errachidi has been released by Morocco

Good news! Family greet London chef after Guantanamo ordeal:

[Errachidi] was freed from the US detention camp last week and flown back to his native Morocco after the British Government refused to intervene on his behalf.

He was taken to a Moroccan prison and appeared in court in Rabat on Wednesday on terrorist charges. But local human-rights lawyers, instructed by the British charity Reprieve, argued successfully for the allegations to be dropped and secured his release.

[…] Speaking for the first time since his release, he said: “I received 283 letters from people in Britain, 283 beautiful letters that gave me so much hope.

“I am particularly grateful to the mothers and fathers who let their young children write to me and send me the little cards they had drawn, as it was a constant reminder of my own two young boys. I am very sorry not to have written back to each and every person, but I was treated very, very badly in Guantanamo. They held me in isolation for months on end, and I did not even have a pen.”

[…] At Guantanamo Bay, the internment camp at a US naval base on Cuba, the American guards nicknamed him “the General” in the mistaken belief that he was an al-Qaeda commander. Information from an unidentified source alleged that he had been at an al-Qaeda training camp in July 2001.

British lawyers were able to produce payslips and witnesses to show that during that month he had been cooking at the Westbury Hotel.

[…] “The US said Ahmed was training terrorists in Afghanistan at a time when he was cooking in a London hotel. When Ahmed was suffering from a mental breakdown, the US military continued to interrogate him. When the British Government could have helped prove his innocence, they remained supine. When Ahmed asked to come back to England, where he worked for 18 years, the British Government refused him the most basic humanitarian assistance.

“We can only hope that Ahmed gets his life back, and that the British Government develops a backbone such that it stands up for the moral principles that should be its lodestar.”

The Government argued for the release of seven British citizens held at Guantanamo but has refused to act in most cases of men who are or have been British “residents”. It made an exception for Bisher al-Rawi – freed in March and allowed to return to Britain – after the High Court was told that he had had contacts with MI5.




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