Algerian wants to stay at Club Gitmo


An inmate of Guantanamo Bay who spends 22 hours each day in an isolation cell is fighting for the right to stay in the notorious internment camp.

Ahmed Belbacha fears that he will be tortured or killed if the United States goes ahead with plans to return him to his native Algeria.

The Times has learnt that Mr Belbacha, who lived in Britain for three years, has filed an emergency motion at the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC asking for his transfer out of Guantanamo to be halted. He was cleared for release from Camp Delta in February and his lawyers believe that his return to Algerian custody is imminent.

Mr Belbacha says that if he returns to Algeria, he faces the threat of torture by security services and murder by Islamist terrorists.

Zachary Katznelson, senior counsel with the human rights lawyers Reprieve and Mr Belbacha’s lawyer, has asked the US courts to block any transfer. “Ahmed is being held in camp six, the harshest part of Guantanamo,” he said. “His cell is all steel, there are no windows, he is not allowed to communicate with other prisoners and he gets just two hours exercise each day in a metal cage.

“He says his cell in Guantanamo is like a grave and that although it sounds crazy he would rather stay in those conditions than go back to Algeria. The fact is that he is really, really scared about what might happen to him in Algeria.”

Mr Belbacha, 38, fled Algeria in 1999 at the height of the brutal civil war between the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and the Algerian Government.


Mr Katznelson said: “Even though the Americans say he poses no threat, Ahmed fears that he has the stamp of Guantanamo Bay on him and he will be treated by the authorities as a terrorist if he is returned to Algeria.

“It is a bizarre situation because the reason he left in the first place was because the Islamist terrorists were threatening to kill him.”


Mr Belbacha’s appeal to stay was rejected by a district court last week after the judge ruled that she had no jurisdiction in the case, despite believing the strength of his claims. His lawyers are prepared to go to the Supreme Court to prevent his transfer.

Apparently despite the claims of the terrorist rights crowd there are worse places to be than Guantanamo Bay. He claims he left Algeria because of fear of the Islamist, but then he goes to Pakistan and Afghanistan to join them? It does not add up. As the recent post on torture in Libya demonstrates the North Africans do know something about torture.


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