releases Guantanamo files
Classified as ‘secret’,
the documents contain detailed case descriptions of
CHENNAI: WikiLeaks, the whistleblower site on the
Internet, released secret documents on Thursday
relating to the majority of 779 prisoners detained
by the United States since 9/11 at Guantanamo Bay.
Most of the prisoners have now been released but 172
still remain in the offshore U.S. prison, located in
Cuba. During his 2008 election campaign, President
Barack Obama promised to shut down the prison,
notorious for its use of torture and other brutal
coercive practices during interrogation.
As he prepares to make a bid for a second term in
office, the unkept promise on Gitmo, as the prison
is known, is seen as one of the big failures of the
Earlier this week, the Guardian, New York Times and
Washington Post, among other Western newspapers,
published a section of the documents. WikiLeaks has
now decided to release them all.
The documents, spanning a period from 2002 to 2008,
can be viewed at http://wikileaks.ch/gitmo/
Classified as “secret,” the documents contain
detailed case descriptions of 759 prisoners. Written
by the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, they are
addressed to the U.S. Southern Command at Miami,
Florida. As the site reveals, the maximum number of
prisoners at the prison were from Afghanistan (223),
followed by Saudi Arabia (135), Yemen (110) and
Pakistan (69). There were no detainees from India.
In November 2008, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah
Mahmood Qureshi told the National Assembly in
response to a question that only six Pakistanis
remained at Guantanamo, and that the government was
making efforts for their release.
Among the six are Ammar al Baluchi, a senior Al
Qaeda operative and nephew of Khalid Sheikh
Muhammed, the self-confessed mastermind of 9/11;
Majid Khan, said to have been hired into the Al
Qaeda by Khalid Sheikh Muhammed; and Saifullah
Paracha, a businessman who offered his services to
the Al Qaeda.
Debate about Aafia Siddiqi
Their files are bound to reopen the debate about
Aafia Siddiqi, an MIT graduate whose imprisonment in
the U.S since 2008 turned her into a heroine in
Pakistan, and added to the anti-American sentiment
in the country.
For most Pakistanis, she is an innocent woman who
has been demonised by the U.S. The dossiers of the
three Pakistanis cast Ms. Siddiqui in a different,
more dubious light. However, WikiLeaks cautions that
in all cases the information in the reports could be
unreliable as coercion was likely used to obtain it.
The Guantanmo files contain allegations that she was
a key figure in an Al Qaeda plan to smuggle
explosives to the U.S. and manufacture biological
Ms. Siddiqui, who is said to have married al
Baluchi, was missing since 2003 until she surfaced
in Afghanistan in mysterious circumstances. She was
detained by U.S. forces in Ghazni province in
Afghanistan in 2008.
Surprisingly, U.S. prosecutors did not bring
terrorism charges against her. She was tried and
convicted by a federal court for attempting to
murder U.S. soldiers with a military weapon left
unattended during her detention in Afghanistan. She
is now serving an 86-year sentence.
The WikiLeak documents, running into thousands of
pages, contain detailed assessments of all the
prisoners, recommending them for continued
detention, release or continued detention after
release in the country of repatriation.
Each dossier contains a personal sketch of the
prisoner, his health status, the circumstances of
his capture, the prisoner’s account obtained through
interrogation, an evaluation of the account, the
risk he poses (“high”, “medium”, “low”) to the U.S.
and the worth of each as a source of intelligence.