Australia tortures and heads must roll

Perhaps, finally, Australians can realise that the former Howard government was more than happy for one of our citizens to be tortured in the name of pleasing the United States:

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has ordered a fresh inquiry into the case of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib.

Julia Gillard requested the new probe amid dramatic claims of Australian government complicity in his 2001 CIA rendition to Egypt, where he was detained and tortured.

The investigation follows a secret compensation payout made by the federal government to Mr Habib in December, apparently triggered by untested witness statements implicating Australian officials in his detention and brutal maltreatment in a Cairo military prison.

The new evidence, not previously made public, includes a statement from a former Egyptian military intelligence officer that he was present when Mr Habib was transferred to Cairo in November 2001.

In the statement, tendered as part of Mr Habib’s civil case against the commonwealth, the officer says Australian officials were present when Mr Habib arrived in Egypt, handcuffed, with his feet bound, naked and apparently drugged.

The statement says: “During Habib’s presence some of the Australian officials attended many times. The same official who attended the first time used to come with them.”

It continues: “Habib was tortured a lot and all the time, as the foreign intelligence wanted quick and fast information.”

The statement is at odds with repeated assertions by the federal government and security agencies since Mr Habib’s return to Australia in January 2005, that they had no knowledge of or involvement in his rendition or detention in Egypt.

As recently as November, in a letter to Mr Habib, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade insisted it had never been able to confirm Mr Habib’s presence in Egypt.

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