News Release

Indefinite Detentions, Trial Today


Today, a jury trial of 14 anti-torture activists is scheduled to begin in Washington, D.C. as anti-torture and indefinite detention protests escalate. reports today: “He waited until New Year’s Eve to do it … but he did it. While expressing ‘serious reservations’ about the bill, President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve signed legislation that cements into law two highly controversial tenets of the war on terror: indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without charge, and the jailing of American citizens without trial. It also takes terrorism-related cases out of the hands of the FBI and the civilian court system and hands them over to the military.”

FRIDA BERRIGAN, frida.berrigan at,

MALACHY KILBRIDE, malachykilbride at

HELEN SCHIETINGER, h.schietinger at

JEREMY VARON, jvaron at

Berrigan, Kilbride, Schietinger and Varon are with the group Witness Against Torture, which has just begun ten days of protests, fasting and lobbying in Washington, D.C.

Varon, who is also a professor of history at the New School, said today: “Despite his campaign pledge to shut down Guantanamo, President Obama has continued the Bush administration’s practice of indefinite military detention there and at Bagram [U.S. base in Afghanistan].” Varon adds that Obama signing the National Defense Authorization Act “extends this abusive regime by allowing the president to order U.S. citizens, as well, to be held indefinitely without due process on American soil. Not one more year — not one more day — of such policies is acceptable. Witness Against Torture is here in Washington to add our message to the ‘Occupy’ movement’s call for a return to a just political and economic system by demanding an end to the national disgrace that is Guantanamo.”

Some of the group’s actions this month — exactly ten years after the first detainees arrived at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — in D.C. include:

“Jan. 3: The jury trial of 14 anti-torture activists is scheduled to begin in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave., N.W. In June 2011, the 14 stood one by one in the Gallery of the House of Representatives to petition lawmakers to uphold the Constitution by not making funding for Guantanamo permanent. WAT will stand with the 14 in the courtroom, outside the courthouse, and around the city as their trial proceeds.

“Jan. 11: A dramatic human chain from the White House to the Capitol Building marks the tenth anniversary of detention at Guantanamo. WAT joins a broad coalition of human rights groups in sponsoring this vigil, which will begin after a noontime rally in Lafayette Park. During the rally and vigil, activists will be wearing orange jumpsuits and holding signs and other visuals demanding that the detention center be closed.”