Cablegate: Algerians Offer Nearly All Assurances Needed For


DE RUEHAS #0652/01 1330941
P 130941Z MAY 07

S E C R E T ALGIERS 000652



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2017

REF: 2005 ALGIERS 2155

Classified By: Ambassador Robert S. Ford, reasons 1.4 (b,d)

1. (S) SUMMARY: In April 21-22 discussions led on the
Algerian side by Counselor to the President for
Counterterrorism Issues Kamel Rezag Bara, the government of
Algeria gave oral assurances to S/WCI Ambassador Williamson
and an interagency delegation to establish the terms for the
transfer of Algerian detainees from the U.S. Naval Base at
Guantanamo to Algeria. A working group consisting of members
of both delegations encapsulated these oral assurances in
written minutes of the meetings, which Williamson and Rezag
Bara initialed at the end of the two-day dialogue. The
meetings and their output produced sufficient assurances to
permit the repatriation of the seven Algerian detainees
scheduled for transfer, except with respect to ensuring that
these individuals would not pose a security risk to the U.S.
or international community. The Algerian delegation
indicated that it took seriously its obligations, but that
Algerian security services balked at providing such
guarantees in the written meeting minutes.

2. (S) SUMMARY (CONT'D): Ambassador Williamson explained to
Rezag Bara that we sought maximum effort from the security
services, understanding that there could be no solid
guarantees. Nonetheless, Rezag Bara said the security
assurances in writing sought by the U.S. on Algerian
responsibility for transferred detainees and potential travel
restrictions after their repatriation could not be given
without consulting the highest levels of the Algerian
government. In exchange for receiving additional time (until
May 31) to coordinate on these outstanding points, Rezag Bara
and the Algerian delegation agreed to the earliest possible
transfer of detainee Sofiane Haderbache, who suffers from
mental illness and for whom the U.S. does not require
security assurances. At the close of the bilateral
discussions, both sides agreed that the remaining assurances
would be worked out between the Algerian and U.S. delegations
through Embassy Algiers. End Summary.


3. (S) S/WCI Ambassador at Large J. Clint Williamson and an
interagency team consisting of Christopher Camponovo (NSC),
Jay Alan Liotta (DoD), Andrew Morrison (S/WCI), and Vijay
Padmanabhan (State L) sought assurances from the government
of Algeria during April 21-22 discussions that would permit
the return to Algeria of Algerian nationals detained at
Guantanamo who have been approved for transfer. Williamson
opened the visit with a courtesy call on FM Bedjaoui during
which he delivered a letter from Secretary Rice seeking
Bedjaoui's assistance in providing the Algerian government
assurances necessary for the transfers. Williamson also
explained the process by which the U.S. made decisions on
transferring detainees out of Guantanamo, including the 25
Algerians on the naval base.

4. (S) Noting Algerian reluctance to enter into an exchange
of diplomatic notes offering assurances on security and
humane treatment of transferred detainees, Williamson told
Bedjaoui he and his team could work with their Algerian
counterparts to record the necessary assurances in signed
minutes of their discussions. The end goal, stated
Williamson, was to find an arrangement that both fulfilled
the Administration's policies and satisfied the Algerian
government. Bedjaoui responded that the Algerian team would
accommodate Williamson and his team, adding that signed
minutes were a better vehicle for conveying the necessary
assurances than an exchange of diplomatic notes. The FM
observed that the travaux preparatoires for the UN Charter
are as important as the Charter itself.


5. (S) The Algerian delegation led by presidential
counterterrorism Counselor Kamel Rezag Bara included
representatives from the Presidency, Ministry of Interior,
National Police, security services, Ministry of Justice, and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The senior MFA official
present was Director General for Consular Affairs Hassane
Rabehi. The U.S. representatives (paragraph 3) also included
Ambassador Ford and PolEc Chief. Ambassador Williamson noted
that the Algerians were a valued partner in counterterrorism
cooperation and gave an overview of U.S. policy on Guantanamo
detainees, explaining that the U.S had determined that seven
Algerian detainees were eligible for transfer. He emphasized
our need for commitments concerning humanitarian treatment
for returned detainees and assurances that persons

transferred do not re-engage in terrorist activity before
their transfer to Algeria could be effected.

6. (S) Rezag Bara said Algeria encouraged the U.S. to close
the Guantanamo detention facility, since its operation
created image problems for the U.S. among its friends around
the world. The GOA, he continued, understood the need for
investigations at Guantanamo on the detained individuals and
supported a resolution of all Algerian detainee cases. Rezag
Bara said the Algerian delegation understood what kinds of
assurances and commitments the U.S. side sought and hoped to
provide them in the course of their bilateral discussions.
The presidential counselor stressed the Algerian need to
ensure that any transferred detainees, unless previously
arrested or charged in Algeria, were returning to the country
by their own choice. Finally, he noted that Algerian law
criminalized terrorist acts committed outside Algeria, even
if Algeria was not a target of the activity. In this regard,
the U.S. delegation should expect the Algerian government to
pursue investigations and charges for returned detainees.
From its own experience with terrorism, Rezag Bara told
Williamson, Algeria would take all measures possible to
prevent re-engagement of the returned detainees in terrorist


7. (S) Williamson responded that he saw very few differences
in approach between the two sides. Algeria's taking steps to
control detainees and keep them from returning to terrorism
would be sufficient for the U.S. Williamson made clear we
were not asking Algeria to detain or incarcerate the returned
detainees; it was sufficient for us to receive confirmation
that the transferred detainees would be treated in accordance
with Algerian law and international conventions. DoD's
Liotta expressed appreciation for the Algerian readiness to
accept responsibility for what would be in all cases medium-
or high-threat detainees. He asked if based on Algerian
review of the detaineesQ, case files there was the likelihood
of prosecution. Liotta also inquired what measures could be
taken to limit the foreign travel of returned detainees.

8. (S) To Liotta's first point, the justice ministry
representative responded that an investigative judge would
review facts related to the cases if the detainees once they
were returned. It would be up to the judge to determine
whether charges would be filed. Rezag Bara added that as
part of this judicial review process, the U.S. and other
third parties could submit evidence for the judge to
consider. The national police representative, for his part,
briefed that under Algerian law "convicted and subversive
persons" lose the right to a passport and are subject to
additional surveillance. Liotta requested further precision
about non-convicted persons, since most Algerian detainees
fell into this category. Rezag Bara clarified that the
passport was lifted for all convicted persons. Persons who
"otherwise present a threat but retain a passport" may be
administratively prevented from leaving Algeria regardless of
their passport status, said Rezag Bara. He added that both
judicial and security service reviews of the detainees' files
would be undertaken following their return.


9. (S) Williamson noted that one of the seven detainees whom
the U.S. sought to transfer to Algeria did not pose a
security threat and no security assurances were necessary in
his case. Sofiane Haderbache, said Williamson, had suffered
a gunshot wound to the head in Afghanistan. As a result,
this detainee had degenerative brain damage and would require
extensive medical care for the duration of his life.
Williamson indicated that the U.S. sought to return this
detainee quickly, since we believed the mental health
treatment and attention he required would be well provided in
Algeria, where Haderbache could be near family and friends
and receive mental health care in his own language and
culture. Asked how the Algerians would address Haderbache's
mental incapacity, Rezag Bara retrieved the case file.
Reading from it, Rezag Bara noted that Haderbache had one
outstanding traffic violation but otherwise had no legal
entanglements. He said the GOA was fully aware of his unique
medical requirements and was prepared to provide Haderbache a
psychological and medical evaluation and treatment in an
appropriate facility upon his return.

--------------------- ------------------- --------------

10. (S) Bara had explained in his opening presentation that

returned detainees would be fully protected by Algerian law
and Algerian international human rights commitments.
Returning to the other six detainees who posed a medium or
high security threat, Williamson asked if third parties such
as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had
access to prisoners in Algeria in the event that some of the
returned detainees were held in penal facilities for a period
of time. Rezag Bara responded that through intelligence
channels the Algerian government could provide the location
of government facilities in which any returned detainees
would be held and questioned under the oversight of an
investigative judge and the Ministry of Justice. The GOA, he
continued, had no problem with making that information
available or providing the ICRC access to the detainees under
existing agreements between the ICRC and the Ministry of
Justice. Rezag Bara added that ICRC personnel stationed in
Tunis visited Algerian prisons on a monthly basis to assess
conditions under which prisoners were held.

11. (S) In a separate meeting, Williamson met April 22 with
Mohamed Amara, Director General of Juridical and Judicial
Affairs at the Ministry of Justice. Amara noted as a point
of pride the strong cooperation between his government and
the ICRC, which he explained was critical to the reform of
jails and prisons in Algeria. He elaborated that the ICRC
regularly visited Algerian prisons. In response to a
question from Williamson, Amara explained that the Algerians
began allowing ICRC access to their detention facilities in
the 1990s. The ICRC currently, said Amara, has freedom to
move within Algerian prisons and have direct contact with
prisoners. He added there are no restrictions on access or
topics of conversation. According to Amara, AlgeriaQ,s goal
in cooperating with the ICRC is to ensure that Algeria meets
international standards of detention.


12. (S) Following the discussions between the two
delegations, both sides assembled teams to prepare minutes of
the conversations that would satisfy the U.S. need for
assurances and the Algerian desire not to provide such
assurances through the exchange of diplomatic notes. The
final English-language version of the minutes, which appears
in paragraph 13 below, was initialed April 22 by both heads
of delegation along with the final French-language version.
After protracted discussions led to an impasse on the
inclusion in the minutes of two security-related points vital
for the U.S. side, Ambassador Ford proposed working through
Embassy Algiers to provide acceptable assurances to
Washington by May 31. (Note: Without additional internal
discussions, the Algerian security services could not be
persuaded to lift their objection to including language
confirming GOAQ,s responsibility for transferred detainees.
End Note.) Rezag Bara stressed the security services were
uncomfortable guaranteeing that no returned detainee would
later leave Algerian territory or return to terrorist
activity. Williamson emphasized that the U.S. was looking
for 100-percent effort and understood no 100-percent
guarantee is possible. If the Algerian authorities become
aware that a detainee exited Algeria, we merely ask to be
informed, stated Williamson. The points in question which
did not appear in the final minutes at GOA request follow:

-- The Algerian government has agreed to take responsibility
for these persons in conformity with its legislation and its
international obligations, and will take all necessary and
appropriate measures in conformity with its legislation and
its international obligations to prevent the transferred
persons from becoming involved in or facilitating terrorist

-- In response to an expressed request of the American
Government concerning the possibility of the restriction of
the freedom to travel abroad of the transferred persons, the
Algerian Government indicated that measures of this nature
will be taken only in the framework of legislative provisions
in force.

--------------------------------------------- ----


Mr. John Clint WILLIAMSON, Ambassador at Large for War
Crimes Issues at the U.S. Department of State, conducted a
working visit to Algiers from April 20 to 22, 2007,
accompanied by a delegation composed of representatives from
the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the
National Security Council.

During his visit, Mr. John Clint WILLIAMSON called on
Mr. Mohammed BEDJAOUI, Minister of State, Minister of Foreign
Affairs, to whom he delivered a letter from Secretary of
State Condoleezza RICE.

He was also received at the Ministry of Justice.

A bilateral meeting bringing together delegations from
the two countries (the members of which appear on the
attached list) took place at Residence El Mithak on April 21
and 22, 2007, under the chairmanship of Mr. Mohamed Kamel
REZAG BARA, Counselor to the President of the Republic, and
Mr. John Clint WILLIAMSON, Ambassador at Large for War Crimes
Issues at the U.S. Department of State.

The discussions concerned the situation of Algerian nationals
detained at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo.

The Algerian Delegation and the American Delegation expressed
their great satisfaction with the quality of relations that
exist between the PeopleQ,s Democratic Republic of Algeria
and the United States of America and with the perspectives
for their expansion and strengthening.

Both Delegations particularly expressed their joint will to
reach a comprehensive settlement concerning the situation of
Algerian nationals detained in the U.S. Naval Base at

This settlement can be finalized according to a timetable and
practical modalities to be defined through discussions
between the two Delegations by the end of May 2007.

The Algerian Delegation indicated that it had no objection to
the transfer of the Algerian nationals whose Algerian
nationality is established, to Algeria or to another country
of their choice.

The Algerian Delegation stated that in all cases, its
nationals will be brought before the national judicial
authority, which will ultimately determine their status.

The Algerian Delegation underscored that Algerian legislation
criminalizes membership by any Algerian national in a
terrorist organization abroad, even if acts committed are not
directed against Algeria.
With respect to the concerns expressed by the American
Delegation about the treatment of the Algerian nationals
after their return to Algeria, the two Delegations, after an
exchange of information, agreed that these concerns are dealt
with, at a political level, by the consistent commitment of
Algeria to the fight against international terrorism and, at
a legal level, by Algerian legislation as well as by virtue
of the obligations assumed by Algeria in the framework of the
different pertinent international conventions to which it has
adhered, notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, as well as the body of international
instruments relating to human rights and the arrangements
concluded with the ICRC.
Within the framework of relevant UN Security Council
Resolutions for combating terrorism, particularly UNSCR
1373/01, the two Delegations decided to reinforce their
cooperation through necessary and appropriate measures,
notably through the exchange of information and intelligence,
with the goal of preventing these persons from being able to
become involved in terrorist activities.

Taking account of the preceding, the two Delegations accepted
the principle, as a first step, upon the agreement of
practical modalities, of the transfer of detainees whose
names are as follows:

- TRARI Mohamed
- FEGHOUL Abdelli
- HAMLILI Mustapha
- ABBAR Houari
- GHALLAB Bachir

Due to his health condition, Sofiane HADERBACHE is to be
transferred as soon as possible.


14. (U) Ambassador Williamson and his delegation have cleared
the text of this message.

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