US embassy faced election day protest

The UK’s American embassy faced protests from anti-Guantanamo groups yesterday as the US went to the polls to vote for a new president.

Demonstrators had arranged to meet around Grosvenor Square around 18:00 BST.

Organisers called on the new government to make “illegal wars, torture, extraordinary rendition, and the flagrant and shameless abuse of human rights a thing of the past”.

Protestors were also lobbying for the release of Binyam Mohamed, the Londoner held in Guantanamo Bay for six years without trial.

Mr Mohamed was given leave to remain in the UK after claiming asylum in 2001.
His lawyers say Mr Mohamed was kidnapped while visiting Pakistan and handed over to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who then transferred him – ‘rendering’ in the legal parlance – to Morocco.

There, Mr Mohamed said he was tortured and interrogated for 18 months before being shipped first to Kabul and then Guantanamo Bay, which he arrived in in 2004.

The American authorities dropped all charges against Mr Mohamed last month but there is still considerable uncertainty about what will happen to him.

Clive Stafford Smith, director of legal charity Reprieve, said: “Far from being a victory for Mr Mohamed in his long-running struggle for justice, this is more of the same farce that is Guantanamo. The military has informed us that they plan to charge him again within a month, after the election.”

Yesterday’s protest was organised by the London Guantanamo Campaign and supported by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), Peace Strike, Brighton Against Guantánamo, Peace and Justice in East London and Eastbourne for Peace and Justice.

Americans went to the polls yesterday with Barack Obama almost universally expected to take the presidency.