News Release

“What’s Wrong With This Picture?”: Prosecuting Torture Protesters — Not Perpetrators


The group Witness Against Torture states that beginning Monday, 27 individuals “will face trial stemming from arrests at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2010 — the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp.”

Available for a limited number of interviews, Quigley is legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights; he will be attending the trial. He said today: “The architects of the torture policy — the Bush Cheney Yoo team — are not held accountable for their crimes. But people who peacefully and prayerfully protest these international human rights crimes are prosecuted. What is wrong with this picture?”

Varon is with Witness Against Torture. Matthew W. Daloisio, also with the group, said today: “The continued operation of the prison camp at Guantanamo is unacceptable. If Guantanamo was a foreign policy liability and stain on the rule of law on day one of the Obama presidency, it surely is 17 months later.”

“The deaths at Guantanamo show how barbaric U.S. policies have been,” says Helen Schietinger, a defendant in the trial. “We are still waiting for accountability for those who designed and carried out torture policies under President Bush. Obama can’t restore the rule of law if he doesn’t enforce the law.”

The human rights activists plan to mount a “necessity defense” before Judge Russell Canan. “We will be arguing that we broke the law only after exhausting all legal means of opposing a much larger crime — the indefinite detention, mistreatment, and torture of men at Guantanamo and other U.S. prisons,” says Jerica Arents of Chicago, Illinois, another the defendants.

Background: The Center for Constitutional Rights resource, “Investigate the Entire Torture Team

Also: “Groups File Federal Complaint Against CIA Based on New Evidence Indicating Human Experimentation on Men in Detention

Witness Against Torture formed in December 2005 when 25 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167