The Guardian 2 February, 2005

Mamdouh Habib

Mamdouh Habib, the Australian citizen who was kidnapped, imprisoned for three years in solitary confinement and subjected horrendous physical and psychological torture, has now arrived home in Australia.

The United States Government released Mr Habib after admitting it lacked sufficient evidence to lay any charges against him.

Mr Habib's release reveals the utter failure of the American project at Guantanamo Bay. The major breaches of human rights and civil liberties that have occurred at Camp X-Ray have yielded little in the way of terrorist prosecutions.

Although Mr Habib is now free he sets foot into his home country as a marked man. Both the Federal and NSW Governments have declared that Mr Habib remains a "person of interest" and have forewarned him that he will have his movements restricted, his phones tapped and be constantly tailed by the Federal Police and ASIO.

Regarding Mr Habib's illegal kidnapping, detention and torture Prime Minister Howard has declared, "We don't have any apology to offer. We won't be offering compensation."

NSW Greens MLA Lee Rhiannon spoke out strongly against the continued invasion of Mr Habib's civil liberties.

"Mr Habib should be allowed to rebuild a life and family shattered by his illegal detention. Instead, Premier Carr will continue hounding him and invading his civil liberties.

"Premier Carr clearly thinks NSW will succeed where the US has failed."

Ms Rhiannon said that draconian and undemocratic laws that stripped away human rights only increased the likelihood of terrorist acts.

"If Premier Carr, Prime Minister Howard and President Bush really want to defeat terrorism they should build up democratic rights and institutions, not trample on them."

"Breaching international law and human rights creates worldwide resentment and anger that helps groups like al-Qaida to recruit new terrorists."

And while human rights activists celebrate the return of Mr Habib, it must be remembered that another Australian, David Hicks, still remains in the Guantanamo Bay hell-hole.

Mr Hicks is to face a US military court on spuriously broad and all-encompassing charges conspiracy; attempted murder as an unprivileged belligerent and aiding the enemy.

No specific charges have been laid which indicates that the US government has very little evidence against him. He has not been charged with killing anyone, he has not been charged with any acts of terrorism, nor has he been charged for causing any specific harm to the invading forces.

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