Cablegate: Libya: Meeting with Returned Gtmo Detainees Under Usg-Gol Transfer Framework Mou
DE RUEHTRO #0455/01 1631601
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 111601Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3519
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4025
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000455
DEPT FOR S/WCI (AMB. WILLIAMSON) AND NEA/MAG (NARDI, JOHNSON)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/11/2018
TAGS: KBTR PREL PGOV PHUM PTER PINR PINS LY
SUBJECT: LIBYA: MEETING WITH RETURNED GTMO DETAINEES UNDER USG-GOL TRANSFER FRAMEWORK MOU
REF: A) STATE 14270, B) 07 TRIPOLI 1060, C) 07 STATE 163961, D) 07 TRIPOLI 723, E) 07 STATE 77783, F) 07 STATE 163961 CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, Dept of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (c), (d)
1. (S/NF) Summary: Post visited two returned Guantanamo detainees to confirm their welfare and whereabouts, and the legal basis on which they are being detained in Libya. One detainee's trial has been completed and he is awaiting a verdict on the four charges he faces; the case of the second detainee is expected to go to trial in the next two to three months. End summary.
2. (S/NF) At a June 10 meeting, P/E Chief interviewed separately returned Guantanamo detainees Muhammad Abdallah Mansur al-Rimi (AKA Abdul Salam Abdul Omar Sufrani, ISN 194) and Ben Qumu Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamouda (ISN 557) per ref A instructions. The meeting took place at a GOL security service facility in Tripoli, and was attended by a host government security official. The last visit to the two returned detainees took place on December 25, 2007 (ref B). ISN 194
3. (S/NF) Al-Rimi (ISN 194), who was returned to Libya in December 2006, said he had been detained at an External Security Organization (ESO) detention facility between December 2006 and June 2007, when he was transferred to the Abu Salim prison, located in the Tripoli suburbs. The security official explained that the Abu Salim prison is controlled and managed by military police; it is the facility at which terrorists, extremists and other individuals deemed to be particularly dangerous to state security are detained. Al-Rimi said he remains in solitary detention in a 15 foot by 15 foot cell and has not been mistreated. He is able to walk outside regularly, and is able to speak with other prisoners during exercise periods. He is provided with drinking water, tea and three meals a day. He does not have access to books, radio or television. He has access to medications and has been visited by a prison doctor on the occasions when he has been ill. Al-Rimi stated that members of his family have visited him three times since his return to Libya, most recently in March 2008. (Note: As reported ref D, their previous visits were in January and May 2007. End note.)
4. (S/NF) Asked about the condition of his arm and his teeth, about which he had previously complained (ref D), al-Rimi said both were better. He repeated his earlier claim (ref A) that he sustained the injury to his arm in 2004 or 2005 during a scuffle with U.S. soldiers who entered his cell to punish him for allegedly instigating a disturbance among several other prisoners.
5. (S/NF) Asked for his understanding of the legal basis on which he is being held and the status/schedule of any legal proceedings against him, al-Rimi said he was questioned by the ESO and Internal Security Organization (ISO) officials between his return in December 2006 and February 2008, when his case was transferred to the Prosecutor General's office. His case has subsequently been been tried and is currently with a panel of judges, who are reviewing it. His understanding is that he faces four charges: 1) membership in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group; 2) membership in al-Qaeda; 3) forging a passport and travel documents and using them to exit the country, and; 4) failing to secure permission to exit the country when he left to fight in Afghanistan. Al-Rimi has court-appointed legal counsel. The Prosecutor General's Office told al-Rimi and his attorney that the court was expected to render a verdict in his case on/about June 16. A verdict had been expected on/about May 5; however, the trial was delayed. Al-Rimi does not know how long his prison sentence could be if convicted of one or more of the charges he faces; however, he claimed his attorney told him he stood a good chance of being acquitted and released. ISN 557
6. (S/NF) Hamouda (ISN 557), who was returned to Libya in August 2007, said he had been detained at an ESO detention facility for three months and was then transferred to the Abu Salim prison. He currently remains at Abu Salim, but understands he may be transferred next month to the Jdeida prison, which houses common criminals, in Ain Zaraa. He has been held in solitary detention since his return - his biggest complaint - and said he has not been mistreated. (Note: The security official explained that detention protocols for extremists and terrorists mandate that they be held in solitary detention to preclude the possibility that they could recruit other members of the prison population for extremist activities. End note.) He is not able to exercise at the Abu Salim prison, but was able to do so at the ESO facility before he was transferred. He is provided with drinking water, tea and three meals a day. He does not have TRIPOLI 00000455 002 OF 002 access to books, radio or television. He has access to medications and has been told he may be visited by a prison doctor if he is ill, but has not had need of one. Hamouda has had two visits by members of his family since his return: his wife and children visited in late December, and his wife and brother-in-law in January. He complained that his family had not visited since, but said he he did not know whether they had tried. (Note: He conceded that his wife had divorced him and remarried, and that relations between them were difficult; however, after the second visit, permission for further visits had to be obtained from the Prosecutor General's office, vice ISO. He speculated that the Prosecutor General's office may have been less efficient in processing visit requests. End note.)
7. (S/NF) Asked for his understanding of the legal basis on which he is being held and the status/schedule of any legal proceedings against him, Hamouda said he was questioned by ESO and ISO officials between his return in August 2007 and May 2008, when his case was transferred to the Prosecutor General's Office. His understanding is that he faces three charges: 1) membership in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group; 2) membership in al-Qaeda, and; 3) that he performed illicit work for a private company in Sudan and Afghanistan. He also faces charges related to a drug trafficking offense for which he was convicted and imprisoned in the early 1990's. According to the security official, Hamouda escaped from prison and left Libya illegally in 1992 to travel to Sudan; he may/may face separate charges for escaping and leaving the country. Hamouda has no legal counsel, but said he does not want an attorney because he has committed no crimes. Claiming that if he were really a member of al-Qaeda " ~ the U.S. would have never returned me to Libya ~ ", he said his impression is that all of the charges against him are based entirely on hearsay from witnesses whose credibility is suspect. He has been told by the Prosecutor General that his trial may start in two to three months. Hamouda does not know how long his prison sentence could be if convicted for one or more of the charges he faces; however, he claimed that he had been granted a pardon by the Qadhafi Development Foundation for the original drug trafficking conviction and his subsequent escape from prison and illegal exit from Libya.