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Cablegate: Former Gtmo Detainees Convicted in France; Gof

VZCZCXRO6872
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #4751/01 3541640
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201640Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1535
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 004751

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER FR
SUBJECT: FORMER GTMO DETAINEES CONVICTED IN FRANCE; GOF
PUTS CONTROVERSY TO REST

1. (U) SUMMARY: Five of six French nationals transferred from
the Guantanamo detainee facility to France were convicted in
Paris on December 19 of "criminal conspiracy with a terrorist
organization." A sixth defendant was acquitted. The court
ruled entirely in accordance with the (less than maximum)
sentences requested by the French government prosecutor (see
paragraph three). Due to time already served, none of the
defendants will serve more than one additional month in
prison. The decision brings to a close a trial that that
began in 2006 with front page news revelations that French
intelligence services interviewed the defendants at the
Guantanamo facility. The defense challenged the prosecution's
case, claiming that their evidence was in large part based on
French intelligence agents' interviews at Guantanamo and
therefore illegally obtained because the Guantanamo facility
is outside of any recognized legal structure. The December
19 court decision judged the visit by intelligence agents to
Guantanamo strictly administrative in nature and inside the
scope of standard intelligence gathering. END SUMMARY

2. (U) Five of six French nationals transferred from the
Guantanamo detainee facility to France in 2004 and 2005 were
convicted in Paris on December 19 of "criminal conspiracy
with a terrorist organization." Achhab Kanouni, the sixth
defendant, was acquitted of all charges. The court ruled
entirely in accordance with the sentences requested by the
French government prosecutor, including the move to drop
charges against Kanouni. (Note: The prosecution had the
option of requesting up to a maximum sentence of ten years in
prison, no time served, but asked only for one year prison
sentences already mostly covered by time served.) All of the
former detainees were placed into provisional detention in
France after being transferred from Guantanamo and had served
between 11 and 17 months before being released pending trial.
As a result of the time spent in provisional detention that
the judgment credited against the one year prison sentences,
none of the former detainees will serve more than one
additional month behind bars. Attorneys for the defendants
have said they will appeal. All of the defendants were
reportedly detained between two and three years in the
Guantanamo facility. Kanouni's lawyer said that his client
intends to sue the U.S. government for reparations.

3. (U) This trial began in July 2006 with front page news
revelations that French intelligence services interviewed the
defendants at Guantanamo. The proceedings were halted while
the court investigated claims by the defense that the
prosecution's case was based in large part on information
obtained during interviews with the defendants by the French
agents who traveled to Guantanamo. The defense asked that
the case be dismissed, alleging that the evidence was not
legally obtained and therefore violated their clients' rights
because the Guantanamo facility had no legal standing. After
a review of now unclassified documents, the court finally
ruled that the information obtained at Guantanamo was in
accordance with the normal duties carried out by French
intelligence services. The court characterized the
intelligence mission as strictly administrative, noting that
it was executed under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, and ruled that it did not violate the rights of the
defendants.

4. (U) Sentences: Brahim Yadel was sentenced to five years in
prison; four years suspended. Mourad Benchellali, Nizar
Sassi, Khaled Ben Mustapha, and Redouane Khalid were all
sentenced to four years in prison, three years suspended.
Achhan Kanouni was acquitted of all charges.

5. (U) COMMENT: These convictions bring to a close an issue
that provided a media opportunity for some academics and
journalists to criticize U.S. detainee policy. The meager
sentences requested by the prosecutor also suggest that the
GOF sought to balance its desire to convict the defendants
with concern that more significant sentences could draw
increased attention to the revelations of French intelligence
agents' visit to Guantanamo and more public criticism of the
intelligence agents' visit to Guantanamo as de-facto GOF
approval of the facility.


Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm

PARIS 00004751 002 OF 002


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