In October 2001, nineteen year old Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen and legal resident of Germany, traveled to Pakistan to learn more about his Muslim faith. A few weeks later, on the day he was to return to Germany, Kurnaz was arrested at a police checkpoint without explanation. Kurnaz was then handed over to the U.S. military and transported to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. After two months, Kurnaz was taken to Guantanamo and held prisoner for five years.
Murat Kurnaz? memoir, FIVE YEARS OF MY LIFE: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo, with an introduction by Patti Smith, is a powerful reminder that every day human lives are at stake. During his imprisonment, Kurnaz suffered solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, and sexual humiliation. Despite his best efforts to communicate his innocence, Kurnaz was charged as an ?enemy combatant? by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal in Guantanamo in September 2004.
This evening will bring together the lawyers in Germany and the U.S. who fought for Murat?s release, an ex-Guantanamo chaplain who was accused of espionage and imprisoned, and Guantanamo experts. Together they will help us understand the political and legal context, give us the perspective from the ?other side of the wire,? and deliver a picture of life in Guantanamo today.
Wallace Shawn will read from Murat Kurnaz's memoir and take part in the discussion.
About Baher Azmy
Baher Azmy is a Professor at Seton Hall Law School, where he directs a civil rights clinic and teaches constitutional law. His litigation work on national security and human rights cases emerging from the "war on terror" include lawfulness of extraordinary rendition, torture, and indefinite executive detention. In July 2004, he began representation of Murat Kurnaz imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay until his release in August 2006.
About Bernhard Docke
Bernhard Docke, a lawyer since 1983, specializes in criminal law, since 1989 partner of the law firm "Dr. Heinrich Hannover und Partner" in Bremen, Germany. He has been a lawyer for Mr. Kurnaz since 2002.
About Murat Kurnaz
Murat Kurnaz is a Turkish citizen and legal resident of Germany, where he was born in 1982. He was in the process of becoming a German citizen when he was arrested in Pakistan and held prisoner for five years. He now lives in Germany. His memoir is FIVE YEARS OF MY LIFE: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo.
About Michael Ratner
Michael Ratner is the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is also an attorney who represented a number of Guantanamo detainees and a professor at Columbia Law School and Yale Law School.
About Philippe Sands
Philippe Sands is an international lawyer and a professor of law at University College London. He is the author of Lawless World and is frequently a commentator on news and current affairs programs including CNN, MSNBC, and BBC World Service. He has been involved in many leading international cases, including the World Court trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the treatment of British detainees at Guantanamo Bay. His article, "The Green Light," about how high level members of the Bush administration pressured underlings to use torture tactics at Guantanamo, appears in the May 2008 issue of Vanity Fair. He is the author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld?s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. He lives in London, England.
About Wallace Shawn
Wallace Shawn is an Obie-winning playwright and a stage and screen actor. His plays include The Designated Mourner, Marie and Bruce, The Fever, and Aunt Dan and Lemon. He co-wrote and starred in the art-house classic My Dinner with Andre and he also performed in numerous Woody Allen films including Manhattan and Radio Days. Our Late Night and a Thought in Three Parts: Two Plays will be published in Spring 2008.
About James Yee
James Yee is the former US Army Muslim Chaplain of Guantanamo Bay. His book, For God And Country, Faith and Patriotism Under Fire, tells the story about being wrongly accused of espionage and imprisoned by the U.S. military. In 2004, the government dropped all charges against him and he received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army.