Thursday, May 13, 2010
HRW Release: US: Revoke Guantanamo Ban on Four Journalists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2010
CONTACT: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
US: Revoke Guantanamo Ban on Four Journalists
Pentagon’s Action Further Discredits Military Commissions
WASHINGTON - May 12 - The US Defense Department's decision to ban four journalists from covering military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay contradicts the Obama administration's pledge of greater transparency and further discredits the commissions, Human Rights Watch and other organizations said in a letter to the Department of Defense today.
The banned journalists are Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail, and Steven Edwards of Canwest News Service.
On May 7, Col. David Lapan, the Defense Department's director of press operations, informed the four that they were barred from returning to Guantanamo because they had revealed the name of a witness who had testified during hearings for Omar Khadr, a Canadian who is being prosecuted for allegedly killing a US soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old.
The witness was known to the court only as "Interrogator No. 1," but his identity was already known to the public because he had been convicted for detainee abuse in a widely publicized court-martial in 2005. The witness had also previously given an on-the-record interview to Shephard of the Toronto Star.
"Banning journalists for revealing the name of a witness whose identity was already publicly known is a pointless and vindictive form of censorship," said Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. "It makes it seem like the Pentagon is trying to clamp down on reporting that is the public's only source of critical information about Guantanamo."
In addition to Human Rights Watch, the letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, and the National Institute of Military Justice, all of whom attend the military commissions on a regular basis.
Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.
Posted by CN at 11:45 AM