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Spanish Judge Reopens Guantánamo Torture Probe

Also: British authorities launch a probe into CIA renditions to Libya

- Common Dreams staff

Just days after the 10th anniversary of the Guantánamo, the notorious prison remains in the news. On Thursday, Witness Against Torture led 40 people who were arrested protesting outside of Obama's White House protesting Guantánamo and indefinite detention.

Members of the group "Witness Against Torture" dressed in orange prison jump suits protest against the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. January 10, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing Now a Spanish judge has re-launched an investigation into the alleged torture of detainees held at the U.S. detention center.

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UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting:

Russia Assails US over Guantanamo Prison

MOSCOW  — Russia's Foreign Ministry has accused the U.S. of breaking international law by keeping terror suspects in indefinite custody without trial at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

In a statement posted on its website Sunday, the ministry said the prison at the U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba represents a "flagrant violation of international law."

The Foreign Ministry also criticized the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 31, which includes a provision allowing indefinite military detention without trial. The ministry claimed the act contradicts U.S. obligations under international humanitarian law.

Russia in the past has reacted angrily to the accusations of human rights breaches that the U.S. State Department has leveled at it in its annual reports.

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Carol Rosenberg of the McClatchy Newspapers writes:

A Spanish judge on Friday re-launched an investigation into the alleged torture of detainees held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, one day after a British authorities launched a probe into CIA renditions to Libya.

The twin developments demonstrated that while the Obama administration has stuck to its promise not to investigate whether Bush administration officials acted illegally by authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques, other countries are still interested in determining whether Bush-era anti-terror practices violated international law.

In Madrid, Judge Pablo Rafael Ruz Gutierrez handed down a 19-page decision Friday in which he said he would seek additional information - medical data, a translation of a Human Rights Watch report, elaboration on material made public by WikiLeaks, and testimony from three senior U.S. military officers who served at Guantanamo - in the case of four released Guantanamo captives who allege they were humiliated and subjected to torture while in U.S. custody. [...]

In London, the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard said Thursday that they would investigate allegations of British involvement in the Bush-era "extraordinary rendition" program, specifically whether British intelligence had a hand in delivering two Libyan opponents of Col. Moammar Gadhafi to Libyan jails, where they were tortured by Gadhafi's secret police.

Scotland Yard agreed to go forward on that probe while dropping another involving the interrogation in Morocco of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed. British human rights activists had sought to hold British intelligence responsible for Mohamed's treatment in Morocco - he called it torture, and the investigators said there was no reason to doubt his account. But they found "it is not possible to bring criminal charges against an identifiable individual."

These crimes are universal crimes and it's very clear that until the United States holds to account those responsible for these crimes, other judicial actors in other countries are going to press for accountability.International human rights groups have turned to the European courts after losing successive efforts to bring cases in U.S. courts, which typically invoked the states secret doctrine to get lawsuits dismissed not on the merits but as a national security necessity.

"In the globalized world in which we live, justice processes are going to go forward," said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group founded by investor George Soros. "These crimes are universal crimes and it's very clear that until the United States holds to account those responsible for these crimes, other judicial actors in other countries are going to press for accountability."

Goldston said international investigations were necessary because the United States has heeded President Barack Obama's call to look forward, not back.

"There's no accountability process," he said. "There're no court proceedings. There're no truth commissions. There's even less appetite today than there was three years ago."

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