Written By: Zaid al-Alaya’a
YEMEN – The conviction of Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayed and Sheikh Mohammad Zayde was secured by an arrogant and ignorant prosecution, said Lamis Deek, a Palestanina-American lawyer on the defense team of al-Moayed and Zayde last Sunday.
In a press conference organized by the al-Moayed and Zayde defense team, Deek said that the prosecution of the two put to trial first and foremost the Arabic language, Arab culture, and the Muslim religion; creating in that courtroom day and day again an atmosphere of irrational fear of the Arab man and Arab society.
“The victory was not just for their own rights, but a victory for the rights of all people including the American people. They secured a victory not only for their own rights, but a victory for the rights of all people, including the American people,” said Deek.
Deek said that they welcomed the decision of the Court of Appeals, which overturned their conviction as a testament to the egregious trial practices. This case is a critical step towards restoring our fundamental and constitutional right to a fair and unbiased trial to all Americans.
“Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayed and Sheikh Mohammad Zayde pled only to agreeing – not actually to giving – but only to agreeing to accept American money which they would then attempt to give to Hamas. And while they did not directly acknowledge that Hamas was a terrorist organization, they did acknowledge that Hamas engages in politically motivated acts of violence.
They pled guilty to planning to fund a party that is supported and welcomed in Yemen, to an act that by Yemeni standards is an honor, not a crime. In accepting this plea, and by their great sacrifice, they stood against the criminalization of the Palestinian resistance to occupation,” said Deek.
On responding to the medical situation of al-Moayed, Deek said that the inhumane conditions, solitary confinement, and the gross medical neglect of a torturous life under the mercy of the bureau-prisons have destroyed the physical health of Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayed.
Tina Foster, another female Iranian-American lawyer with the International Justice Network, an organization who is working with the Hood Organization here in Sana’a, and other human rights activists, have been working to end the suffering and human rights abuses that continue to be inflicted on Yemeni detainees in Guantanamo.
“Through these efforts, on January 20th of this year, President Obama – in virtually his first act as President of the United States – promised to close Guantanamo Bay. All of us who have worked in this struggle had renewed hope by this, and it seemed that the end of former president Bush’s illegal and unjust action in the so-called ‘War on Terror’ would finally come to an end,” said Foster.
Foster said that their struggle is far from being over, as almost one hundred Yemeni detainees remain at Guantanamo and continue to be subjected to unfair and inhuman treatment at the hands of the United States government.
Foster said, regarding the acts of torture on prisoners in Guantanamo – which President Obama promised close, it appears that now that the injustices of Guantanamo are being perpetuated at an even worse prison – the prison run by the United States military at Baghram Airbase in Afghanistan.
“Our clients, Fadi al-Makaleh and Amin al-Bakari, are to this day on strike at Baghram. Both were kidnapped by the United States and have been tortured in secret US prisons and they remain at Baghram, being held without access to any court of law or any lawyers or any access to justice,” said Foster.
After three years of legal battles on these cases, in April of this past year a federal judge finally ruled for the first time that Guantanamo detainees and Baghram detainees – these two clients in particular – have the right to have their cases heard in US courts.
But to the great disappointment of the al-Moayed defense team, President Obama is now challenging this and has appealed to the Court of Appeals. The case will be heard later this year in Washington D.C. in the Court of Appeals.
There can no longer be any doubt that President Obama wishes to use Baghram in the same way that President Bush used Guantanamo.
“Obviously this concern should be for all of us, as the Obama administration continues to maintain the right to kidnap our Muslim brothers from anywhere in the world and hold them indefinitely without access to justice. In addition there are people in the United States, such as our Yemeni brother Abad al-Fakeeh, who is currently serving an excessive and severe sentence in the United States for the most minor of technical offences,” said Foster.
According to Foster, there are thousands of other American Muslim prisoners being held in outrageous conditions.
“Addressing you here today and sitting next to my freed client Mohammad Zayde has been the greatest honor of my legal career. I must thank the Yemeni people for their warm welcome and for keeping the struggle alive on behalf of these two heroes who are finally returned to you. I also need to thank the Committee for the great honor of having served as their representative in the United States,” concluded Foster.
Sheikh al-Moayed didn’t attend the press conference due to his deteriorating health, so his aide, Mohammed Zayde, expressed his delight over their freedom and return to their country.
Zayde thanked the President, the Prime Minster, the Yemeni people, and the parties, organizations, and rights activists for their efforts in obtaining their release, commending the American lawyers’ efforts for their support saying that their dealing was unique and humane and has contributed to increasing prison morale. He urged the Yemeni government and right activists to work for the release of the rest of the detainees in American prisons.
He added that he is glad to return to his social charitable activity to bring back the smiles and joy to the faces of the poor and to fight real terrorism – hunger and poverty.
Sheikh Hamoud Hashim al-Tharihi, Head of the notational committee for defending Zayde and al-Moayed, expressed their committee’s preparedness to continue efforts for other detainees’ release.
He said he would not relax until the last Yemeni, Arab, and Muslim prisoner are freed, through the cooperation of the entire world’s honorable people.
Al-Tharihi, Hood organization and al-Moayed’s brother, honored the American lawyers, handing them the National Committee shield for Al-Moayed and Zayde’s defense, in addition to a certificate from the Foreign Affairs Minister which was given to the team on his behalf.
Among the defense team of al-Moayed and Zayde was also Bob Boyle, the attorney for the appeal. He could not attend the conference but said that he wanted the people to know that his commitment did not end with the return of Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayed. He said also that the entire legal team, Elizabeth Finks, Sarah Kunstler, Tina Foster, and Lamis Deek remain dedicated to seeking justice for both of the men.