Detainees filing private prosecution against George W. Bush in Surrey provincial court
Four men, including a journalist with the Al Jazeera international news organization, plan to file on Thursday (October 20) a criminal complaint for torture against ex–U.S. president George W. Bush in Surrey provincial court.
The legal action will come on the day Bush is scheduled to appear at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, whose honorary chair is Mayor Dianne Watts.
Matt Eisenbrandt, legal director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice, will file the criminal information on behalf of Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani, and Murat Kurnaz.
“We had called on the attorney general and the federal government to pursue a prosecution [against Bush] and received no response,” Eisenbrandt told the Straight by phone from Vancouver. “And we have no indication that they’re doing anything, so that’s the reason that we’re going forward with this private prosecution.”
Legal, peace, and human-rights groups have argued that the Canadian government is obligated under national and international laws to arrest and prosecute persons responsible for torture.
Bush himself acknowledged that he approved the use of torture against suspected enemies of the U.S. In his memoir, he recalled that when he was asked if it was acceptable to subject a detainee to waterboarding, he responded, “Damn right”.
Attash, el-Hajj, Tumani, and Kurnaz are alleging that they were beaten, hung from walls and ceilings, deprived of sleep, and suffered other forms of abuse while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and the American military base at Guantánamo Bay.
Attash, a Yemeni born in Saudi Arabia, is currently detained at Guantánamo. He was 16 when he was captured in Pakistan in 2002.
A former detainee at Guantánamo, el-Hajj is a Sudanese national and a correspondent for Al Jazeera. He was seized in Pakistan in 2001. He’s presently based in Qatar.
Tumani, a Syrian, was arrested in Pakistan when he was 17. A former Guantánamo detainee, he now lives in Portugal.
Kurnaz, a Turkish national who was born in Germany, was apprehended in Pakistan in 2001. He was 19 at the time. He claims severe beatings at the hands of his Guantánamo custodians. He has returned to Germany.