Gitmo Kuwait’s lawyer slams Kuwait envoy to US

4 July, 2012

published: Kuwait Times

In response to the statement released by the Kuwaiti Ambassador in Washington, Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Sunday in which he directly addressed me following a statement I issued concerning the dropping of charges against Fayiz Al-Kandari, I state that it is rather unfortunate that the Ambassador would make such a statement without carefully reading mine and that Embassy officials failed to correctly convey to him the real facts. So I do not blame him completely for the rather confused statement issued by him in which he failed to display diplomatic skills and decorum befitting of the position of an ambassador of a great nation like ours. That being said, I will in this statement seek to clarify certain matters raised by the Ambassador in his statement which are for all intents and purposes lacking in credibility and truth.

Firstly, on the information made public by me in the last two days concerning the Kuwait Guantanamo detainees, I wish to state that as the only official attorney and legal representative of Fayiz Al-Kandari in Kuwait appointed by Al-Kandari to defend him and safeguard his legal interests in Kuwait has been conferred with the power to assess and determine which information are deemed unclassified and should be made available to the public and those that are not to be disclosed to the public My statement informing the public of the decision by the US Government to withdraw allegations against Al-Kandari was in line with preserving the trust imposed upon me by Al-Kandari and also motivated by my principle of  transparency with the Kuwait people which has been demonstrated throughout the course of this case. Let it be therefore be known by the Ambassador that I will not accept guidance from him or anyone else concerning how to handle this case or how to proceed with its strategy.

Secondly, the Ambassador has claimed that the Embassy is vigorously working on the Guantanamo case. This claim is rather unfortunate and completely false, though I am not unmindful that what our diplomats at the Embassy may claim to be ‘working vigorously’ on this case may have involved hosting fancy dinners and issuing fleeting statements which have not produced any tangible result in this case. Is the Ambassador not aware that that we had earlier submitted at the Embassy letters of proxy and documents issued by Fayiz Al-Kandari for authentication which were rejected by the Embassy with the reason, albeit laughable, that Al-Kandari must appear in person to authenticate the documents? Would such an action constitute ‘working vigorously’ on this case as maintained by the Embassy?

Thirdly, on the claim by the Ambassador that Lawyer Abdul Rahman Al-Haroun is the lawyer for the Guantanamo Bay detainees, it appears to me that the Ambassador is not aware of all the latest developments in this case including matters contained in official documents. For the sake of being fair, I acknowledge that my colleague Al-Haroun was selected by the Kuwait Family Committee for Guantanamo detainees in 2002 based upon the principle that permitted relatives of detainees to issue powers of attorney on behalf of their relatives who were incommunicado. Where such a relative was no longer incommunicado and was now accessible, such right conferred on the relatives ceased to operate as the detainee automatically regained his right to choose an attorney of his choice.  Fayiz Al-Kandari is no longer incommunicado, has revoked all authorizations earlier given by the Family Committee, and has appointed the members of his defense team to represent him, appointing me as his only legal attorney in Kuwait. The Ambassador surely must be aware of the general legal principle applicable not only in Kuwait that legal representation can only be lawful where an official power of attorney has been issued. I therefore demand that anyone who claims to have Fayiz Al-Kandari’s mandate should provide the same or refrain from issuing statement or acting on his behalf.

Fourthly, the Ambassador’s categorical statement that the decision by the US to drop charges against Al-Kandari will not lead to his release comes to me as surprising as I wonder whether the Ambassador was happy to give such an interpretation to such a delicate issue. One would have expected more decorum from the Ambassador on this issue, knowing the effect such a statement issued by a person in his office would have on the Kuwait people. Since the Ambassador has by his own estimation drawn up the conclusion that dropping the charges had no legal effect on the issue of release, I would like to remind the Ambassador of the principle of international law which states that “No person shall be detained without charges against him”.

Where the US administration had previously maintained allegations against Fayiz Al-Kandari and even raised such charges to the level of war crimes, from my legal point of view dropping these allegations through a letter signed by Admiral Bruce MacDonald which did not refer to the reason given by the Ambassador is indicative of the fact that the charges were baseless. International legal principle supports the fact that it is illegal to detain a person without charges raised against him. Therefore the Ambassador should have based his statement on this principle instead of seeking to justify the US Government’s policy on indefinite detention.

As I had mentioned before, the Ambassador failed to visit the Guantanamo detainees. This however was not the only evidence of his failure to carry out his duties. We have a large amount of information at our disposal that reveals the negligence of the Kuwaiti Embassy in Washington in its handling of the Guantanamo case.  Such information however cannot be released by me being protected under confidentiality rules governing lawyer-client relationship.

I would in general want to restate to the people of Kuwait that any statement or information previously released by me or to be released by me in future, are accurate in all respects and have been studied carefully by Fayiz Al-Kandari’s defense team. The Ambassador’s statement that I should issue my statements carefully only shows that the Ambassador does not have up to date information on the case since my release of the information was made simultaneously with the announcement made by the Pentagon and published in the media. My announcement was made upon receiving the letter signed by Vice-Admiral Bruce MacDonald dropping all charges filed against Fayiz Al-Kandari in 2008. I am confident that this development has had a very positive impact on the families of the detainees and has brought joy to the Kuwait people being a sign of a light in the dark tunnel.

In conclusion, I have realized today that if this Ambassador is the representative of the State of Kuwait in the most powerful nation of the United States of America, may God assist the people of Kuwait who are resident in other countries. In the event that the Ambassador is handling with negligence and laxity and lack of information in a case that is important to the   international community in general and specifically to the Kuwait people, a case which His Highness the Amir considers his first and last case and of high priority, then I convey my condolences to the Kuwait people for the demise of Kuwait diplomacy.

I would have hoped that the Ambassador will, rather than focus on fruitless arguments, make serious efforts in this case being an imperative of his office. Where he so clearly cannot perform the duties and tasks entrusted to him by virtue of his office, especially following up the wellbeing of Kuwait citizens in the United States, he should freely say so and relinquish his position as Ambassador.