Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Reporters Without Borders on Nepal, Elaine Cassel on Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, Robert Parry on Negroponte & Free Speech Radio News on Honduras

Reporters Without Borders is reporting on conditions for journalists in Nepal. From "At least six journalists arrested in two weeks:"

At least six journalists have been arrested during the past two weeks, despite a claim from government spokesman Tanka Dhakal that there were "no government controls on the media".
Reporters Without Borders said it was incensed by the statement from the minister, whose only legitimacy stemmed from a coup. The authorities should put an end to arbitrary arrests and perverse summonses, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
It added that censorship has been stepped up with a ban on the press from using any sources of information about the security situation other than the security forces.
Nepal is currently holding nine journalists in jail and at least six more have gone into hiding to escape arrest.
Dhakal, government spokesman and information and communications minister, speaking in Nepalgunj, in the southwest, denied that the government had imposed any media controls. "The press is free to write whatever it wants apart from anything that encourages terrorism" he said.
Three days later, Kanak Mani Dixit, prominent editor of the Nepalese language magazine Himal Khabarpatrika, was arrested and questioned for several hours in Kathmandu after plain clothes police officers arrested him at his home after his return from India where he had spoken at a press conference about Nepal's political crisis.

At CounterPunch, Elaine Cassel has "The Appalling Case of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali:"

At the end of the 2003 academic year at the Saudi university he was attending, Abu Ali failed to return home to the U.S. As a result, his family--Jordan-born, naturalized U.S. citizens living in Northern Virginia where I practice--contacted me to see if I could help.
In August 2004, attorneys filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, on behalf of Abu Ali's parents, in order to obtain his release. Among the attorneys was renowned constitutional rights scholar and Georgetown University law professor David Cole.
The day the suit was filed, the State Department--which had previously refused to provide information to Abu Ali's parents--notified them that their son would be charged with crimes of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. But that never happened. Instead, the question of whether Abu Ali could be returned to the U.S. was litigated.

Before U.S. District Judge John Bates, the government took the position that Abu Ali was far too dangerous to ever be returned to the United States, and that the reason was so serious that it could not be disclosed even to the family's attorneys. In other words, the government sought to proceed on secret evidence.
Then, the government reversed itself dramatically. It transported Abu Ali to the United States itself--thus mooting the question before Judge Bates of whether the government could proceed upon secret evidence to block his return.
In 2004, when Abu Ali's parents had been begging the U.S. government to intervene, it had refused--claiming it was up to the Saudis whether he was released. With his return, however, it began to seem evident that the Saudis had been holding Abu Ali with U.S. consent--indeed, even at the U.S.'s behest. It now appears that FBI agents had the Saudis remove Abu Ali from his university class and take him to a Saudi facility for questioning in the summer of 2003.
It also became apparent that the U.S. could, all the time, have ensured Abu Ali's return to the U.S. whenever it felt like it. After all, federal prosecutors had, during this time, extradited from Saudi Arabia to Alexandria another man in Saudi custody who was alleged to be (and acquitted of being) a terrorist and involved in the case of the Alexandria 11.

At In These Times, Robert Parry's "Negroponte’s Dark Past: The case against Bush’s new intelligence czar" is worth reading:

George W. Bush's choice of John Negroponte to be the first U.S. intelligence czar signals that Washington is heading down the same road that has led to earlier American intelligence failures and controversies -- from politicizing analysis to winking at human rights abuses.
Although Negroponte's nomination is expected to sail through the Senate, one question that might be worth asking about his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 is: "Were you oblivious to the Honduran military's human rights violations and drug trafficking, or did you just ignore these problems for geopolitical reasons?"
Negroponte either oversaw a stunningly inept U.S. intelligence operation at the embassy in Tegucigalpa -- missing major events occurring under his nose -- or he tolerated atrocities that included torture, rape and murder, while slanting intelligence reports to please his superiors in Washington.
Whichever it is -- incompetence or complicity -- it is hard to understand how Negroponte, the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, can be expected to fix the intelligence flaws revealed by the Bush administration's failure to connect the dots before the 9/11 terror attacks or to avert the scandalous use of torture on Muslim suspects captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Parry's article leads us to Free Speech Radio News' Monday broadcast which notes "Honduran Death Squads Are Back [:] A former minister in Honduras says death squads are being used for a more current issue. Latin America correspondent Nan McCurdy has more."