The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Gonzales defends renditions in Cairo

Alberto Gonzales, one of Bush’s legal architects of torture in the current war on terror has honoured us with a visit to Cairo, where he defended “extraordinary renditions� of Islamist suspects, but refused to confirm Egypt was (and is) one of the receiving countries.

Here’s an AP report by friend and journalist Nadia Abou El-Magd:

U.S. attorney general defends secret rendition of terror suspects in first visit to Egypt
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ In his first visit to Egypt, U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on Saturday defended the secret transfer of terror suspects to countries where they could face torture _ a practice known as "extraordinary rendition." But Gonzales refused to confirm reports that Egypt, with a human rights record the U.S. has criticized, was one of those countries.
"I'm not going to confirm that there have been any (suspects sent to Egypt), and I'm certainly not going to talk about the numbers _ it's intelligence activity and we just don't do that," Gonzales told reporters after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
"All I can say is that we do have an obligation to seek assurances from any country in which we are returning someone, that the individual is not going to be tortured," he said.
Gonzales said the U.S. would send a Justice Department lawyer to be stationed in Cairo "so we can further cement our relationship and we have someone on the ground representing me."
The United States has said it does not condone torture or send anyone to countries that practice torture, but human rights groups have raised concerns about the rendition of terror suspects.
Earlier this year, Egyptian Interior Minister Habib el-Adly denied Egypt was receiving or torturing terror suspects from abroad.
Detainees have said they were transferred from the U.S. to alleged secret facilities in countries including Poland, Romania, Jordan and Egypt _ where some said they were mistreated or tortured.
Gonzales refused to confirm the existence of such facilities, though he acknowledged the practice of sending terror suspects to prisons in their home countries.
He said he saw no contradiction between the U.S. running a facility like Guantanamo, where activists and former detainees have alleged abuse, and promoting democracy around the world.
"We have procedures in place to ensure that those at Guantanamo in fact deserve to be at Guantanamo," Gonzales said. "We're looking for ways to deal with terrorists other than at Guantanamo if we can _ the U.S. has no intention and no desire to be the world's jailers," he added.
Gonzales arrived in Egypt Wednesday and met the country's ministers of justice and interior, as well as with the prosecutor-general, on Thursday.
He expressed his appreciation for Mubarak's "very important role ... in calming the situation in Gaza" and cited democratic improvements in Egypt.
"The promotion of the rule of law is very, very important, and the growth of democracy," he said. "Challenges exist, and we consider President Mubarak a valuable ally to the U.S."
More than 600 activists, mostly Islamists, remain jailed after Egyptian authorities began cracking down on street protests earlier this year. The U.S. State Department has criticized the arrests, but activists have called on the U.S. to issue a stronger reprimand against Egypt.

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