Saturday, 27 May 2017

"So, What Did Sweden Ever Do, Then?"

Ask Julian Assange.

As John Pilger writes:

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted.

Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state's collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and "rendition". 

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden.

"It's a laughing stock," said James Catlin, one of Assange's Australian lawyers. "It is as if they make it up as they go along".

It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose.

In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the "Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch" foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.

The "mission" was to destroy the "trust" that was WikiLeaks' "centre of gravity". This would be achieved with threats of "exposure [and] criminal prosecution".

Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim. Perhaps this was understandable.

WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for sovereignty and international law.

These disclosures are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistle blowers as "part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal". 

In 2012, the Obama campaign boasted on its website that Obama had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined.

Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had publicly pronounced her guilty.

Few serious observers doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. 

According to documents released by Edward Snowden, he is on a "Manhunt target list".

Threats of his kidnapping and assassination became almost political and media currency in the US following then Vice-President Joe Biden's preposterous slur that the WikiLeaks founder was a "cyber-terrorist".

Hillary Clinton, the destroyer of Libya and, as WikiLeaks revealed last year, the secret supporter and personal beneficiary of forces underwriting ISIS, proposed her own expedient solution: "Can't we just drone this guy?"

According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington's bid to get Assange is "unprecedented in scale and nature".

In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has sought for almost seven years to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted.

This is not easy. The First Amendment protects publishers, journalists and whistleblowers, whether it is the editor of the New York Times or the editor of WikiLeaks.

The very notion of free speech is described as America's " founding virtue" or, as Thomas Jefferson called it, "our currency". 

Faced with this hurdle, the US Justice Department has contrived charges of "espionage", "conspiracy to commit espionage", "conversion" (theft of government property), "computer fraud and abuse" (computer hacking) and general "conspiracy".

The favoured Espionage Act, which was meant to deter pacifists and conscientious objectors during World War One, has provisions for life imprisonment and the death penalty.

Assange's ability to defend himself in such a Kafkaesque world has been severely limited by the US declaring his case a state secret.

In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the "national security" investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was "active and ongoing" and would harm the "pending prosecution" of Assange.

The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show "appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security".

This is a kangaroo court. For Assange, his trial has been trial by media.

On August 20, 2010, when the Swedish police opened a "rape investigation", they coordinated it, unlawfully, with the Stockholm tabloids.

The front pages said Assange had been accused of the "rape of two women".

The word "rape" can have a very different legal meaning in Sweden than in Britain; a pernicious false reality became the news that went round the world.

 Less than 24 hours later, the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, took over the investigation.

She wasted no time in cancelling the arrest warrant, saying, "I don't believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape."

Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation altogether, saying, "There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever." 

Enter Claes Borgstrom, a highly contentious figure in the Social Democratic Party then standing as a candidate in Sweden's imminent general election.

Within days of the chief prosecutor's dismissal of the case, Borgstrom, a lawyer, announced to the media that he was representing the two women and had sought a different prosecutor in Gothenberg. 

This was Marianne Ny, whom Borgstrom knew well, personally and politically.

On 30 August, Assange attended a police station in Stockholm voluntarily [it must be nice to be given that option] and answered the questions put to him. He understood that was the end of the matter.

Two days later, Ny announced she was re-opening the case.

At a press conference, Borgstrom was asked by a Swedish reporter why the case was proceeding when it had already been dismissed.

The reporter cited one of the women as saying she had not been raped. He replied, "Ah, but she is not a lawyer." 

On the day that Marianne Ny reactivated the case, the head of Sweden's military intelligence service - which has the acronym MUST - publicly denounced WikiLeaks in an article entitled "WikiLeaks [is] a threat to our soldiers [under US command in Afghanistan]". 

Both the Swedish prime minister and foreign minister attacked Assange, who had been charged with no crime.

Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, had been told by its US counterparts that US-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be "cut off" if Sweden sheltered him. 

For five weeks, Assange waited in Sweden for the renewed "rape investigation" to take its course. 

The Guardian was then on the brink of publishing the Iraq "War Logs", based on WikiLeaks' disclosures, which Assange was to oversee in London.

Finally, he was allowed him to leave.

As soon as he had left, Marianne Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol "red alert" normally used for terrorists and dangerous criminals.

Assange attended a police station in London, was duly arrested and spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison, in solitary confinement.

Released on £340,000 bail, he was electronically tagged, required to report to police daily and placed under virtual house arrest while his case began its long journey to the Supreme Court. He still had not been charged with any offence.

His lawyers repeated his offer to be questioned in London, by video or personally, pointing out that Marianne Ny had given him permission to leave Sweden.

They suggested a special facility at Scotland Yard commonly used by the Swedish and other European authorities for that purpose.

She refused.

For almost seven years, while Sweden has questioned forty-four people in the UK in connection with police investigations, Ny refused to question Assange and so advance her case.

Writing in the Swedish press, a former Swedish prosecutor, Rolf Hillegren, accused Ny of losing all impartiality.

He described her personal investment in the case as "abnormal" and demanded she be replaced.

Assange asked the Swedish authorities for a guarantee that he would not be "rendered" to the US if he was extradited to Sweden.

This was refused.

In December 2010, The Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the US. 

Contrary to its reputation as a bastion of liberal enlightenment, Sweden has drawn so close to Washington that it has allowed secret CIA "renditions" - including the illegal deportation of refugees. 

The rendition and subsequent torture of two Egyptian political refugees in 2001 was condemned by the UN Committee against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; the complicity and duplicity of the Swedish state are documented in successful civil litigation and in WikiLeaks cables. 

"Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England," wrote Al Burke, editor of the online Nordic News Network, an authority on the multiple twists and dangers that faced Assange, "clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights.

"There is every reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights."

The war on Assange now intensified.

Marianne Ny refused to allow his Swedish lawyers, and the Swedish courts, access to hundreds of SMS messages that the police had extracted from the phone of one of the two women involved in the "rape" allegations. 

Ny said she was not legally required to reveal this critical evidence until a formal charge was laid and she had questioned him.

Then, why wouldn't she question him? Catch-22. 

When she announced last week that she was dropping the Assange case, she made no mention of the evidence that would destroy it. 

One of the SMS messages makes clear that one of the women did not want any charges brought against Assange, "but the police were keen on getting a hold on him". 

She was "shocked" when they arrested him because she only "wanted him to take [an HIV] test". She "did not want to accuse JA of anything" and "it was the police who made up the charges".

In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been "railroaded by police and others around her".

Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, "I have not been raped." 

The women were manipulated by police - whatever their lawyers might say now. Certainly, they, too, are the victims of this sinister saga. 

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote:

"The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction... 

"The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. 

"Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?" 

Assange's choice was stark: extradition to a country that had refused to say whether or not it would send him on to the US, or to seek what seemed his last opportunity for refuge and safety.

Supported by most of Latin America, the government of tiny Ecuador granted him refugee status on the basis of documented evidence that he faced the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment in the US; that this threat violated his basic human rights; and that his own government in Australia had abandoned him and colluded with Washington.

The Labor government of the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, had even threatened to take away his Australian passport - until it was pointed out to her that this would be unlawful.

The renowned human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, who represents Assange in London, wrote to the then Australian foreign minister, Kevin Rudd:

"Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions... it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence.

"Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged." 

It was not until she contacted the Australian High Commission in London that Peirce received a response, which answered none of the pressing points she raised.

In a meeting I attended with her, the Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, made the astonishing claim that he knew "only what I read in the newspapers" about the details of the case.

In 2011, in Sydney, I spent several hours with a conservative Member of Australia's Federal Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull.

We discussed the threats to Assange and their wider implications for freedom of speech and justice, and why Australia was obliged to stand by him.

Turnbull then had a reputation as a free speech advocate. He is now the Prime Minister of Australia.

I gave him Gareth Peirce's letter about the threat to Assange's rights and life. He said the situation was clearly appalling and promised to take it up with the Gillard government.

Only his silence followed.

For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder.

There are few precedents.

Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.

That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious.

I would call it anti-journalism.

Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. 

People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

The previous editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, "one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years". 

Yet no attempt was made to protect The Guardian's provider and source. Instead, the "scoop" became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper's cover price. 

With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. 

The book's authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a "damaged personality" and "callous". 

They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. 

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh". 

Journalism students might well study this period to understand that the most ubiquitous source of "fake news" is from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and an extension of the authority and power it claims to challenge but courts and protects. 

The presumption of innocence was not a consideration in Kirsty Wark's memorable BBC live-on-air interrogation in 2010.

"Why don't you just apologise to the women?" she demanded of Assange, followed by: "Do we have your word of honour that you won't abscond?"

On the BBC's Today programme, John Humphrys bellowed: "Are you a sexual predator?" 

Assange replied that the suggestion was ridiculous, to which Humphrys demanded to know how many women he had slept with.

"Would even Fox News have descended to that level?" wondered the American historian William Blum.

"I wish Assange had been raised in the streets of Brooklyn, as I was. He then would have known precisely how to reply to such a question: 'You mean including your mother?'"

Last week, on BBC World News, on the day Sweden announced it was dropping the case, I was interviewed by Geeta Guru-Murthy, who seemed to have little knowledge of the Assange case.

She persisted in referring to the "charges" against him.

She accused him of putting Trump in the White House; and she drew my attention to the "fact" that "leaders around the world" had condemned him.

Among these "leaders" she included Trump's CIA director. I asked her, "Are you a journalist?"

The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament reformed the Extradition Act in 2014. 

"His case has been won lock, stock and barrel," Gareth Peirce told me, "these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognises as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit." 

In other words, he would have won his case in the British courts and would not have been forced to take refuge. Ecuador's decision to protect Assange in 2012 was immensely brave. 

Even though the granting of asylum is a humanitarian act, and the power to do so is enjoyed by all states under international law, both Sweden and the United Kingdom refused to recognise the legitimacy of Ecuador's decision. 

Ecuador's embassy in London was placed under police siege and its government abused.

When William Hague's Foreign Office threatened to violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, warning that it would remove the diplomatic inviolability of the embassy and send the police in to get Assange, outrage across the world forced the government to back down.

During one night, police appeared at the windows of the embassy in an obvious attempt to intimidate Assange and his protectors. Since then, Assange has been confined to a small room without sunlight. 

He has been ill from time to time and refused safe passage to the diagnostic facilities of hospital.

Yet, his resilience and dark humour remain quite remarkable in the circumstances.

When asked how he put up with the confinement, he replied, "Sure beats a supermax." 

It is not over, but it is unravelling.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention - the tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations - last year ruled that Assange had been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden. 

This is international law at its apex.

Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. In previous cases ruled upon by the Working Group - Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma, imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in Iran - both Britain and Sweden gave full support to the tribunal.

The difference now is that Assange's persecution endures in the heart of London.

The Metropolitan Police say they still intend to arrest Assange for bail infringement should he leave the embassy.

What then? A few months in prison while the US delivers its extradition request to the British courts? 

If the British Government allows this to happen it will, in the eyes of the world, be shamed comprehensively and historically as an accessory to the crime of a war waged by rampant power against justice and freedom, and all of us.

NATO: AL-Qaeda's Air Force In Libya

John Wight writes:

With another terrorist atrocity erupting in a European city – this time Manchester in the UK – the extent of Britain’s role in the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and its connection to the awful carnage that has just ensued could not be more damning. 

NATO’s intervention in Libya from March to October 2011, culminating in the savage murder of the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, by an armed mob, turned a functioning state, considered a highly developed country by the UN Development Program in 2010, into a failed state governed six years on by three competing authorities. 

Today, Libya is rife with armed militias where chaos is the new normal, evidenced in a refugee crisis that has seen countless men, women, and children perish while making a forlorn and desperate attempt to flee the country across the Mediterranean in ramshackle boats and barely seaworthy craft. It is a country in which ISIS and other Salafi-jihadi groups now have a significant presence

Contrary to the claims made by the British, French and US governments at the time, the uprising in Libya, which began in the country’s eastern city of Benghazi in February 2011, was not spearheaded by Jeffersonian democrats whose objective was the establishment of a liberal democracy in the country, but instead Islamists intent on instituting a caliphate on foundations of religious extremism, sectarianism, and intolerance. 

Drawing on the analysis of two French think tanks, John Rosenthal reveals in a June 2011 article how “jihadists have played a predominant role in the eastern-Libyan rebellion against the rule of Muammar Qaddafi, and that 'true democrats' represent only a minority in the rebellion.

“The report, furthermore, calls into question the justifications given for Western military intervention in Libya, arguing that they are largely based on media exaggerations and outright disinformation.” 

NATO’s air campaign to topple Gaddafi, using UN Security Council Resolution 1973 as justification for regime change, has guaranteed the Western military alliance a cold place in history, exposing its self-appointed mission as a guardian of democracy and human rights across the world as a sham.

In Libya between March and October of 2011, NATO operated as a de facto air force for Al-Qaeda and in the last analysis ISIS, the groups that benefited most from Gaddafi’s overthrow.

Even more damning, in the wake of the Manchester terrorist attack, are new revelations exposing the existence of a nefarious relationship between Britain’s security services and anti-Gaddafi militants of Islamist persuasion living in the UK, who were allowed to travel from the UK to Libya to join their cohorts in the campaign to topple the government in 2011. 

Among those militants was Ramadan Abedi, father of Salman Abedi, the perpetrator of the aforesaid Manchester terrorist atrocity, which killed 22 and injured 159, many of them children, at a pop concert in the city. 

Abedi Snr is known to have been a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an Al-Qaeda affiliate committed to Gaddafi’s overthrow. 

It is revealed that Abedi Snr lived in the UK for some years before returning to Libya to take part in the 2011 uprising. 

His son, Salman, was born in the UK in the 1990s and is known have visited Libya just before returning to the UK to carry out his suicide attack. 

Both Abedi Snr and Salman’s younger brother, Hashem, have been arrested in Tripoli in connection with the Manchester atrocity, with the latter reportedly admitting that he had foreknowledge of his brother’s plan to carry out the suicide attack in the UK. 

It is also alleged that Hashem has links to ISIS. 

At the time of the alleged ‘open door’ policy of the British government, allowing Libyan exiles living in the UK, some with connections to Islamist groups, to travel to Libya to take part in the uprising against Gaddafi, the UK’s current Prime Minister Theresa May was the country’s home secretary. 

This means she was responsible for the country’s internal security, including counter-terrorism and immigration, thus raising the question of whether she knew of the open door policy vis-à-vis Libya and was the one who authorized it?

The wider issue is the complicity of the British establishment in advancing the objectives of Islamist extremism in Libya, however wittingly or unwittingly, and with it the terrorist attacks that have emanated from the North African country since 2011.

In 2015, it should be recalled, an ISIS-inspired gunman who’d received military training in Libya murdered 38 tourists as they lay sunbathing on a Tunisian beach. 

Thirty of his victims were British citizens.

It was an act of mass murder, which along with the recent act of mass murder in Manchester, stands as a withering indictment of UK foreign policy and London’s role in the destruction of Libya in 2011. 

Under Gaddafi there was no ISIS in Libya and no Salafi-jihadi terrorist networks planning and preparing terrorist attacks against British citizens.

On the contrary, Gaddafi was an unflinching enemy of Islamic extremism, which is why groups such as the LIFG and the Muslim Brotherhood were committed to his overthrow, which would not have been possible without NATO’s military intervention.

As the full extent of the perfidy and mendacity of UK foreign policy comes to light over the part it has played in facilitating the rise of Islamist extremism and terrorism in Libya; there is only one conclusion to be drawn:

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Blowback

There was great fun to be had on Channel 4 News last night.

Michael Fallon was humiliated when he denounced a quotation about Iraq War blowback because he thought that it had been uttered by Jeremy Corbyn.

In fact, though, it had come from Boris Johnson.

One might add that it has also long been the publicly stated view of MI5, and that it remains so.

Johnson is a shameless, utterly unprincipled chancer who hides behind the persona of an incompetent, bumbling buffoon.

Fallon, who lied through his teeth to Parliament when a Trident was accidentally fired at Florida, is an incompetent, bumbling buffoon who hides behind the persona of a shameless, utterly unprincipled chancer.

He is so bad that the voters of Darlington once actively preferred even Alan Milburn to him.

Why was either of them ever appointed? How and why has neither of them been sacked? Precisely what hold do they have over Theresa May?

Those are not rhetorical questions.

The Source of The Vile

Out of Andrew Neil's own mouth last night, the attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn by reference to the IRA depends on the claims made by Sean O'Callaghan.


Funnily enough, however, Neil did not tell that to the BBC's viewers.

Friday, 26 May 2017

"I Have No Concerns Whatever About Your Mental Health"

With those words, the relevant professional shook my hand at the door yesterday.

I had been referred to him by the dear old forces of what passes for law and order here in the 1950s theme park of Poulson County, Alabama.

They had arranged for my first hearing to be held at Peterlee, an extensive and a fairly expensive trek from Lanchester for a disabled person who was dependent on public transport.

The obvious intention was that I should not turn up, and thus be in the cells that night.

But never mind. Better luck next time?

Apparently not. Next time was yesterday, and I left, not committed as they had clearly hoped, but in what is presumably the rare position of having been certified sane.

Those who have been calling me mad for many years, people who can hate others for supporting the wrong football team or for not hating those who support the wrong football team, maybe it's you?

Or, to put it another way, it is you. You are the ones who are dangerous lunatics, and who ought never to be allowed anywhere near the running of anything.

You hold your positions only by the permanent fear of your physical violence if anyone tried to dislodge you, a state of affairs in which you can see absolutely nothing wrong. You are psychopaths.

That is, if you do hold any position, of course. One of you is no longer even allowed to sign the papers nominating candidates for the Parish Council that he used to chair.

Still, that is the attempt to use the mental health system against me out of the way. And today, I received a letter granting me that rarest of things these days, Legal Aid.

That letter came from Birmingham, but the one in England. Anywhere outside the 1950s theme park of Poulson County, Alabama, the shenanigans of its Good Ol' Boy network are held in open contempt.

That network is now laughed at and spat upon by the mental health system, laughed at and spat upon by the Legal Aid authorities, and laughed and spat upon by the general public that comes up to me and shakes my hand morning, noon, and night.

Yet, being thick and psychotic, George Wallace and Bull Connor are pushing on with their rather un-English demand for a pound of my flesh even though I was not elected this month and I am not a candidate next month.

It all rather recalls Jimmy Goldsmith's lawfare against Private Eye, or the management style of Don Arden, or the bombardment of entire West Bank towns if they produce a single stone-throwing youth.

I suspect that the fact that I am both mixed-race and a Catholic is doubly offensive to our very own Governor Wallace.

Those of you who would have us believe that you were veterans of the Left, did Tony Blair's Chief Whip ever ban you from being a District Council candidate because you were mixed-race and left-wing, in that order?

Has the Blairite Right ever tried to murder you, as happened to me when I was even younger than Laura Pidcock is now?

And is the Far Right mafia that runs the Labour Party in County Durham trying to send you to prison for an offence that it is not clear was ever committed in the first place, having in the meantime tried to send you to the Serbsky Institute?

If not, then you are nothing approaching my equal, no matter how many newspapers you have ever sold on the streets, or how many pro-Corbyn links you have ever posted on Facebook.

Alas that Labour remains in control of Durham County Council, there to beat the Teaching Assistants into the ground, because the Teaching Assistants listened to you middle-aged adolescents instead of listening to me.

Unprevented

So much for the Prevent Strategy up to now, then.

Yet another attacker who had been pretty much on the security services' Christmas card list. When are they ever not?

Thank goodness for Jeremy Corbyn's magnificent speech today.

It really has come to something when the purest of common sense, the blatantly obvious, is considered remotely controversial.

Although, controversial to whom?

When this Election was called, the Conservatives had a lead of 24 points. But the polls today put this country in hung Parliament territory.

Grammar Technical

There was no ban on setting up new grammar schools for the first 40 of the 50 years during which no one has attempted to do so.

That ban itself was enacted as a tidying up exercise, with little or no coverage or controversy.

If the policy of lifting it were remotely likely to make any real difference to anything, then it would be receiving wall to wall coverage.

But instead, it is receiving practically none.

That fact speaks for itself.

An Address of Convenience

The following letter appears in the latest edition of the Lanchester Village Voice:

Many people want to know if an election candidate is local. However political parties have their own agenda.

The Conservative party candidate in the forthcoming General Election comes from Hastings on the south coast. I do not take issue with this as it is clear to the electorate.

However the Labour candidate was a councillor in Cramlington until she was defeated on May 4th. Her home was given as Oxford Avenue, Cramlington.

I understand that she has now declared on her election submission she lives in Lanchester in a property that appears to be a flat over a shop.

I recall the UKIP leader being hauled over the coals for using an address of convenience in a recent by-election.

It appears to me the Labour candidate is playing the same game in order to get a local address on the ballot paper.

Name and address withheld on request

Thursday, 25 May 2017

God Is Gone Up

Allelúja, allelúja. Ascéndit Deus in jubilatióne, et Dóminus in voce tubæ. Allelúja.

Except that, for yet another year, we have to endure the Biblical disobedience, the international eccentricity and the ecumenical humiliation of pretending that this is not Ascension Day.

There are ecclesial bodies in this country, including within the boundaries of this diocese, that variously ordain women, allow divorce and remarriage practically without limit, perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples, and allow people with no ministerial status whatever to preside at Communion services.

Yet they all manage to keep Ascension Day on the correct day. 40 days after Easter, it says in the Bible. So 40 days after Easter, it is. The question does not even arise. 

Any more than it arises for the Pope, who most certainly does not move it to the nearest Sunday.

In the United States, bodies closely related to the Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church manage to maintain this even while blessing abortion facilities.

But in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, it is, apparently, beyond us.

All of those bodies also join the Pope in keeping the Epiphany on 6th January, so that they have something called the 12 Days of Christmas. 

More of them than one might think also keep Corpus Christi, invariably on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, the day on which, again, it is also kept by the Pope. 

Speaking of Trinity Sunday, the downright bizarre practice has very recently crept in, of using the Apostles' Creed rather than the Nicene Creed at Mass, for no better reason than that it happens to be a couple of seconds shorter.

It is almost physically painful to try to explain why such use is historically, liturgically and theologically illiterate. If anyone has to ask that question, then there would seem to be little point in telling them the answer. 

To use the Apostles' Creed at Mass on Pentecost or Trinity Sunday is to recite an incomplete account of the doctrines to which the day bears witness, since ... well, if you have ask, then there is no point telling you. 

The same is in fact true of every Mass, as such. 

Our separated brethren would never do this, because they do not give the impression of being run by people who, rather like footballers, gave up formal education at a very early age in order to pursue something else entirely.

The Pope would never do it, because he is the Pope.

None of this, none of it, would ever arise if there were proper catechesis in Catholic schools.

As things stand, 16-year-olds are taken away from quadratic equations and from Shakespeare in order to spend an hour of each day colouring in pictures of nothing very much, while learning by some sort of osmosis that Christianity is about being a nice person, since Jesus gave such wise advice for practical living that people started calling him "the Son of God" as a kind of nickname.

But, of course, if they were taught Doctrine and Scripture instead, then they might start asking why their parishes were keeping the Ascension on the wrong day.

The Grown-Up Candidate

I am delighted that their campaign has transformed the Durham Teaching Assistants from political novices into dedicated activists.

But I do not resile from my criticism that they have allowed themselves to become overly dependent on gurus and mentors who were, in reality, barely more experienced at proper politics than they themselves were.

As a result, due to the failure to declare explicitly for the re-election of all non-Labour members of Durham County Council, and for the defeat of all Labour candidates without exception, that party has managed to retain overall control of that authority.

Therefore, it is necessary to punish Labour in County Durham by other means, namely by re-electing Grahame Morris while defeating all other Labour candidates in this county at the forthcoming General Election.

One of those candidates walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally, a Rally that had given a standing ovation to the two non-Labour Councillors for Consett North, both of whom have since been re-elected, and one of whom is now that walker out's Liberal Democrat opponent for Parliament.

But she, Laura Pidcock, is exceptionally close to the gurus and mentors who think that a quarter-century of demonstrating and newspaper-vending on the streets, noble and important in themselves but hardly the be all and end all of grown-up politics, is in itself enough to qualify them as seasoned politicians.

Therefore, there are those among the TAs who even appear to be supporting Pidcock against Owen Temple, who is, with Alex Watson (one of my own Campaign Patrons), one of the two County Councillors to have done the most for them, as they rapturously acknowledged at their own Solidarity Rally.

Seated right next to Owen and Alex, I participated fully in that rapture.

While disagreeing with almost everything in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, while agreeing with almost everything in the Labour manifesto, and while aching for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, I am proud to be a mere fortnight away from voting for Owen to serve as my MP.

But then, my formative and ongoing political experiences have been and are as a Parish Councillor, as a governor of two schools, around even if never quite on the old Derwentside District Council, as a member of the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner's Community Panel, and as a governor of the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

I have no background in, nor have I the slightest affinity with, that which Lenin called "an infantile disorder".

Hence, one of my Campaign Patrons served for many years as the Leader of the Derwentside District Council of which he always said that I ought to have been a member (but my Branch preferred pure blood Aryan pretty boys who knew about football and pop music, no matter how unelectable they were), chairing the North East Regional Assembly and earning himself the OBE.

While my other Campaign Patron was first elected to Parliament 30 years ago, has been the MP for four constituencies in three cities, is on course to add a fifth seat in a fourth city, and is one of the most immediately recognisable politicians in the English-speaking and several other worlds.

As a grown-up, backed by grown-ups, I am telling you that Owen Temple is the grown-up candidate in North West Durham, and the only true friend of the Teaching Assistants on the ballot paper here.

Provisional, Indeed

Ultimately Risking National Security

Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly asked about Police cuts.

First David Cameron, and then Theresa May, have simply abused him in response.

And now, we have troops on the streets.

Two years ago, while she was Home Secretary, May accused a delegate at the Police Federation's conference of "scaremongering" and "crying wolf" when he warned that those cuts "run the risk of letting communities down, putting Officers at risk, and ultimately risking national security."

Inspector Damian O'Reilly was from Manchester.

Heading Our Way

One of my Campaign Patrons, whose election at Manchester Gorton equals in urgency the defeat of all Labour candidates in County Durham apart from Grahame Morris, George Galloway writes: 

Salman Abedi was neither a refugee nor an immigrant.

His family were anti-Gaddafi exiles given sanctuary in Britain, and the child-killer Abedi who massacred so many innocents in Manchester on Monday night was born, raised, and expensively educated here. 

In the warped way of things, the child-killer and his family cheered on David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy as they bombed Libya into pieces.

Then he bombed us.

Nobody should ever forget the role that Cameron played in the overthrow of the absurd Gaddafi regime.

And achieved a result few could have thought possible, making Libya an even worse mess than it was under the Colonel.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee rightly slated Cameron’s role in this grisly imbroglio.

But by then, like a thief in the night, the ignominious Mr. Cameron had slipped away into the deserts of Panama.

Far from learning the lessons as Sir John Chilcot might have put it, of the Iraq catastrophe, Cameron, Sarkozy and Gaddafi’s closest European counterpart, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, repeated it all over again.

With grimly predictable results, predictable at least by all but those we pay to govern us.

And their obeisant hookers in the mainstream media who hang on their every word.

Metaphorically, of course. It is others who hang as a result. 

We were treated to the full playbook of the ‘Demon Must Go’ propaganda script.

Gaddafi was going to “kill his own people”, not something which much troubled us when Jack Straw and other not-ables were conniving in the kidnap of anti-Gaddafi dissidents and their return with black bags over their heads to the dictator’s torture tables.

I will remember forever the solemn BBC news reports which informed us that Gaddafi was dishing out Viagra to his soldiers to encourage them to rape women in Eastern Libya.

The Colonel’s barely existing army was said to be going to fall on Benghazi and murder every last person in it, house to house.

“Something must be done” was the familiar cry which arose. And something duly was.

The rest is history.

“We came, we saw, he died,” laughed (oh, how she laughed) Hillary Clinton when Gaddafi was sodomised with a length of lead piping before being hacked to death by a frenzied mob.

Nobody is laughing now.

Libya is a non-state, broken into fanatic cantons each ruled by mutually antagonistic militias.

There are three governments and four Prime Ministers; it would take too long to explain.

Its gates to the rest of Africa to the south, and to the Mediterranean and Europe to the north, blow open like an abandoned Wild West saloon door. 

Tumbleweed rolls where big Western businesses used to make plenty from Libyan oil and largess, some of it shared by Western political leaders.

I never met Gaddafi or any of his family. Blair, Mandelson, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and others were not so fortunate. 

The destruction of Libya by the globalist gang of NATO warriors may turn out to be on a par with the disaster in Iraq.

For Europe, perhaps more so.

For there are many more Salman Abedis, and not many goodies, heading our way.

The Unpalatable Truth

The great Neil Clark writes:

There are reports that Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber, returned from "Daesh stronghold" Libya just days before he carried out his horrific attack.

The question we need to be asking is: who turned Libya — which as recently as July 2010 was being lauded in the British press as one of the top six cruise ship holiday destinations — into an "Daesh stronghold", and a training ground for terrorists like Abedi?  

It's not a question that the West's political elites and their media stenographers want us to be asking. And that's hardly surprising. 

Because it was they, and the military alliance they support, who transformed Libya from a modern progressive country which acted as a bulwark against Salafi-jihadism, into a haven for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. 

Let's cast our minds back to March 2011.

NATO's "liberation" of Libya during the so-called "Arab Spring" was cheered on by "liberal interventionists," regime-change obsessed neocons and most of the mainstream media.

The "evil" Gaddafi was going to carry out a "Srebrenica style" massacre of civilians in Benghazi, the likes of David Cameron and William Hague told us. 

We simply had to intervene to stop the dictator "killing his own people."

Gaddafi's warnings that many of the so-called "rebels" were actually fanatical extremists linked to al-Qaeda were haughtily dismissed by the West's endless war lobby as the ravings of a madman.

But — as I later wrote: "It wasn't the 'mad' Gaddafi who was telling lies in 2011, but the regime changers in suits."

At home, those of us who warned that forcibly ousting the long-standing Libyan leader would greatly strengthen al-Qaeda — and give them and affiliated extremists a base on the Mediterranean — were shouted down as "apologists for dictators'"by the Euston Manifesto brigade. 

When I wrote a comment piece for the Daily Express newspaper on July 27, 2011, calling for UK to end its involvement in the Libyan war, my obsessed neocon stalker Oliver Kamm of the London Times newspaper attacked me the same day for saying that Gaddafi had given Libya stability and higher living standards. 

But I — and others who opposed the NATO action — were right and the serial "regime changers" were wrong — once again. 

Libya is now a failed state. 

The country that had the highest Human Development Index in Africa in 2009, has seen the return of slave markets. 

Stability? In place of Gaddafi there's utter chaos.

There is no unitary government authority — in fact, there are competing governments. 

The main beneficiaries of the NATO "intervention" have been Daesh and al-Qaeda, who established a presence in the country that they never had before.

"Libya today is a bewildering chaos of competing militias and jihadi groups broadly following IS, al Qaeda and affiliates such as Ansar al-Sharia, and the Muslim Brotherhood in several guises and shadowy forms" writes Robert Fox in the Standard.

Yet just seven years ago, before NATO got going, it was a perfectly safe place for Western tourists to visit.

The instability in Libya has spilled over into neighboring Tunisia — with deadly consequences for Western tourists. 

In June 2015, 38 people, including 30 Britons, were massacred on the beach at Port El Kantaoui. 

The gunman, Seifeddine Rezgui, was reported to have trained at a Daesh base in Libya

A base that — it must be pointed out — did not exist when Muammar Gaddafi was running the country. 

While the consequences of NATO's Libya intervention have been so catastrophic, and so far-reaching, those responsible have never been held to account. 

Quite the opposite: those who helped turned the country into a jihadists playground and in doing so greatly increased the terror threat to Europeans are positively thriving. 

The politicians who ordered the bombing of Libya are raking it in on the conference circuit. 

Earlier this year it was revealed that David Cameron, British Prime Minister in 2011, was paid a mind-boggling £100,000 (US$130,000) for one speech to Morgan Stanley Investment Management. 

This is after a damning report of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons which declared: "the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence." 

Like Iraq, Libya was a war sold to us on a lie. 

Yet even after the destruction of Libya, the deceit goes on. 

The same bunch of warmongers who voted for and cheer-led the military action to topple Gaddafi are hell-bent on toppling another secular Arab leader who's fighting the very same people who have claimed responsibility for and celebrated the horrific bomb attack in Manchester.

The serial regime changers want Bashar al-Assad's head on a plate, so they can then move on to Iran. 

Again, the main beneficiaries of this policy will be Daesh and al-Qaeda.

It's worth nothing that British Prime Minister Theresa May not only voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but also for the bombing of Libya in 2011 — and for Syrian government forces to be bombed in 2013.

Had David Cameron got his way then, it is quite probable that Salman Abedi's co-ideologists would be in control of all of Syria today. 

At the time of writing, there are also reports that Abedi himself may have been in Syria, too.

Once again, he'd be on the same side of the neocons — i.e., working for "regime change."

The unpalatable truth is that very people who claim to be making us safe, have in fact greatly increased the terror risk to ordinary citizens on account of their criminally reckless regime change operations against governments that acted as a bulwark against the jihadists.

And unless we have a proper, grown up, no-holds-barred debate on Western foreign policy double standards, and ask who it was who turned Libya from a top cruise ship destination which was getting praise in the Daily Telegraph, into a "Daesh stronghold," the nightmare will only continue.

Detecting The Difference

Mary Dejevsky writes:

It was seen as a classic example of British understatement: the Home Secretary’s admission to the BBC that she was “irritated” by the leak to the US media of the Manchester suicide bomber’s name. 

But it was rather the opposite. 

For a Home Secretary to comment at all disparagingly on the US treatment of privileged UK information was a real departure. 

Since then, it has been downhill all the way.

Amber Rudd had followed up her comment in the same Today programme interview by saying she would be asking for assurances from Washington that there would be no repetition. 

But then there was. 

Within 24 hours the New York Times had published police photographs from the Manchester arena, showing – or appearing to show – the backpack the bomber had worn and the method of detonation – information that had not been released. 

The response? 

Fury in official quarters; a police announcement that they were suspending cooperation with their US colleagues; a promise from the Prime Minister to tell President Donald Trump that shared intelligence “must be secure”, and a rush by the UK’s knee-jerk Trump-critics to blame “this President” for the leaks. 

Given that shared intelligence, and the implied discretion that goes with it, is almost all that remains of the so-called special relationship, the state of UK-US relations is starting to look very like an additional casualty from the Manchester atrocity. 

 Nor should either side be allowed to get away with blaming the media. 

For all the opprobrium traditionally heaped on UK journalists, they – we – are generally respectful of security embargoes and police requests, so long as we understand the reasons.

Delaying publication of the presumed bomber’s name makes sense, because it could alert associates. 

Withholding precise details of the method allows investigators time to trace suppliers and routes. 

There is a big difference between these operational requests and statements intended to put the media off the scent or disguise police mistakes (the 2005 shooting of Jean-Charles de Menezes comes to mind). 

Not always, but often, journalists are quite good at detecting the difference.

There are many differences in the way the US and the British media work – until recently the degree of respect for authority was one. 

In the particular case of the Manchester bombing, however, it could also be argued that there was no security dimension – at least no national security dimension – to a US outlet publishing the name or the photos ahead of time.

 Of course, that neglects the global aspect of communications today. 

But the chief responsibility for any breach rests with the agencies that passed on material that – in the British view at least – was not theirs to pass on. 

This was not a case of assiduous reporters ferreting out sensitive information, but of one or more branches of US law enforcement or security deliberately deciding to pass it on.

Why they might have done this, especially after the UK’s objections to the first leak, raises further questions.

Could it have been mere bravado – a desire by a particular agency to show how “in the loop” or how “media-friendly” it was? 

Other theories have centred on Donald Trump.

Some have suggested, conspiratorially, that one or other agency might have wanted to discredit Trump in the middle of his first foreign trip, as part of their continuing animus against him.

That seems as unlikely, though, as the contrary idea, seized upon by his many UK detractors, that Trump himself was somehow responsible – after all, had he not just divulged classified information to the Russian foreign minister? 

This seems even less plausible than the conspiracy theory.

Not only is there scant chance that any leak of this kind would have been referred up to the White House, but it turns out that this apparently unprecedented release of “shared” information does indeed have a precedent.

The former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Blair, disclosed that there had been similar breaches by US agencies in the wake of the 7/7 attacks in London.

The difference then – an interesting and perhaps significance difference – is that official UK fury was confined to diplomatic channels.

Which brings us back to the “special relationship” and the sharing of intelligence that constitutes such a large part of it.

As Theresa May left London for the Nato summit, where she intended to talk respect for shared secrets with Donald Trump, one of the most telling observations came from the BBC’s specialist security correspondent, Frank Gardner. UK security officials, he reported, were desperately trying to “ring fence” their cooperation with their US counterparts so that cooperation could continue unaffected by the row about leaked information from Manchester.

This says two things.

First, that the intelligence agencies see themselves as distinct from – and superior to? – the law enforcement agencies, such as the police and the FBI.

They do not want any blurring of the lines, even though the lines between the two are inevitably blurred where international terrorism is concerned, and should probably not exist at all.

Second, the UK’s concern to maintain intelligence cooperation, even as police cooperation is suspended, underlines the lopsided nature of the relationship.

MI5, MI6 and GCHQ may be held in great respect by their US counterparts – at least, that is what they insist - and each may over the years have delegated tasks in such a way as to exploit discrepancies in national laws, to mutual advantage. 

With the resources and reach of the US agencies now in quite a different league from ours, could the liabilities of this “special” relationship be starting to outweigh the benefits?

The UK might currently take out as much, or more, than it puts in, but there are downsides – including a sense of diminished responsibility.

In 2002-3, for instance, the UK followed the US to Iraq on the basis of intelligence on chemical weapons that France and Israel had interpreted more critically.

Citing a theoretical risk to relations with “third countries” has also allowed MI6 and others to refuse to testify in court on such subjects as extraordinary rendition and the death of Alexander Litvinenko. 

Now we have the leaks of information from Manchester.

However and why this happened, the cavalier way in which one or more US agencies disregarded the UK’s legitimate security interests shows that a reconsideration of intelligence-sharing is now overdue.

Sorted?


The British government operated an "open door" policy that allowed Libyan exiles and British-Libyan citizens to join the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi even though some had been subject to counter-terrorism control orders, Middle East Eye can reveal. 

Several former rebel fighters now back in the UK told MEE that they had been able to travel to Libya with "no questions asked" as authorities continued to investigate the background of a British-Libyan suicide bomber who killed 22 people in Monday's attack in Manchester. 

Salman Abedi, 22, the British-born son of exiled dissidents who returned to Libya as the revolution against Gaddafi gathered momentum, is also understood to have spent time in the North African country in 2011 and to have returned there on several subsequent occasions. 

British police have said they believe the bomber, who returned to Manchester just a few days before the attack, was part of a network and have arrested six people including Abedi's older brother since Monday. 

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said that Abedi was known to security services, while a local community worker told the BBC that several people had reported him to the police via an anti-terrorism hotline. 

On Wednesday, authorities in Tripoli said that Abedi's younger brother and father, who had resettled in Libya after the revolution, had also been arrested on suspicion of links to the Islamic State (IS) group, which claimed responsibility for Monday's attack.

Sources spoken to by MEE suggest that the government facilitated the travel of Libyan exiles and British-Libyan residents and citizens keen to fight against Gaddafi including some who it deemed to pose a potential security threat. 

'No questions asked' 

One British citizen with a Libyan background who was placed on a control order – effectively house arrest – because of fears that he would join militant groups in Iraq said he was "shocked" that he was able to travel to Libya in 2011 shortly after his control order was lifted. 

"I was allowed to go, no questions asked," said the source, who wished to remain anonymous. 

He said he had met several other British-Libyans in London who also had control orders lifted in 2011 as the war against Gaddafi intensified, with the UK, France and the US carrying out air strikes and deploying special forces soldiers in support of the rebels.

"They didn't have passports, they were looking for fakes or a way to smuggle themselves across," said the source. 

But within days of their control orders being lifted, British authorities returned their passports, he said.

"These were old school LIFG guys, they [the British authorities] knew what they were doing," he said, referring to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Gaddafi Islamist militant group formed in 1990 by Libyan veterans of the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. 

The British government listed the LIFG as a proscribed terrorist organisation in 2005, describing it as seeking to establish a "hard-line Islamic state" and "part of the wider Islamist extremist movement inspired by al-Qaeda". 

Former members of the LIFG deny that the group had any links with al-Qaeda and say it was committed only to removing Gaddafi from power. 

Belal Younis, another British citizen who went to Libya, described how he was stopped under 'Schedule 7' counter-terrorism powers on his return to the UK after a visit to the country in early 2011.

Schedule 7 allows police and immigration officials to detain and question any person passing through border controls at ports and airports to determine whether they are involved in terrorism. 

He said he was subsequently asked by an intelligence officer from MI5, the UK's domestic security agency: "Are you willing to go into battle?"

"While I took time to find an answer he turned and told me the British government have no problem with people fighting against Gaddafi," he told MEE. 

Travel 'sorted' by MI5

As he was travelling back to Libya in May 2011 he was approached by two counter-terrorism police officers in the departure lounge who told him that if he was going to fight he would be committing a crime. 

But after providing them with the name and phone number of the MI5 officer he had spoken to previously, and following a quick phone call to him, he was waved through. 

As he waited to board the plane, he said the same MI5 officer called him to tell him that he had "sorted it out".

"The government didn't put any obstacles in the way of people going to Libya," he told MEE. 

"The vast majority of UK guys were in their late twenties. There were some 18 and 19. The majority who went from here were from Manchester." 

But he said he thought it was unlikely that Abedi, who would only have been 16 at the time, would have been recruited as a fighter. 

"The guys I was fighting with would never put a 16-year-old boy anywhere near the frontline." 

Younis said he did not think that the policy of allowing British-Libyans to fight againt Gaddafi had been a contributing factor in Monday's attack, pointing out that IS was not present in the country at the time - and said he had no regrets about his decision to fight. 

"What inspired me to go to Libya was the liberty of civilians. There's no way that that can morph into killing children," he said. 

Another British citizen with experience of fighting in both Libya and in Syria with rebel groups also told MEE that he had been able to travel to and from the UK without disruption.

"No questions were asked," he said. 

The majority of the fighters flew to Tunisia and then crossed the border into Libya, while others travelled via Malta, he said. 

"The whole Libyan diaspora were out there fighting alongside the rebel groups," he added.

One British-Libyan man from Manchester who also wished to remain anonymous told MEE that he had travelled frequently to Libya during the 2011 revolution to undertake humanitarian aid work.

"I never got prevented from going to Libya or stopped when I tried to come back," he said. 

The man said that he had come across Salman Abedi at their local mosque in the Didsbury neighbourhood but that he had "kept himself to himself" and was not an active member of the community. 

His family, who were originally from Tripoli, had returned to Libya, he said. 

"I guess if your family is away from you that sense of belonging dissipates. For us Libyans in Manchester - they're trying to imply we knew. He was just an individual and he's nothing to do with us." 

Another person who knew Abedi described him as a "hot head" with a reputation for involvement in petty crime. 

"Yesterday they're drug dealers, today they're Muslims," he said, adding that he believed Abedi had also been friends with Anil Khalil Raoufi, an IS recruiter from Didsbury who was killed in Syria in 2014.

'Elite SAS training' 

One of the British-Libyans spoken to by MEE described how he had carried out "PR work" for the rebels in the months before Gaddafi was overthrown and eventually killed in October 2011. 

He said he was employed to edit videos showing Libyan rebels being trained by former British SAS and Irish special forces mercenaries in Benghazi, the eastern city from where the uprising against Gaddafi was launched. 

"They weren't cheap videos with Arabic nasheeds [songs], they were slick, professional glossy films which we were showing Qataris and Emiratis to support troops who were getting elite SAS training." 

He was also tasked by rebel commanders with training young Libyans to use cameras so that they could sell packages to international media. 

On one assignment at a rebel base camp in a Misrata school, he came across a group of about eight young British-Libyans. 

After joking about their northern accents he found out that they had never been to Libya before. 

"They looked about 17 or 18, maybe one was 20 at most. They had proper Manchester accents," he said.

"They were there living and fighting and doing the whole nine yards." 

Many Libyan exiles in the UK with links to the LIFG were placed on control orders and subjected to surveillance and monitoring following the rapprochement between the British and Libyan governments sealed by the so-called "Deal in the Desert" between then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gaddafi in 2004. 

According to documents retrieved from the ransacked offices of the Libyan intelligence agency following Gaddafi's fall from power in 2011, British security services cracked down on Libyan dissidents in the UK as part of the deal, as well as assisting in the rendition of two senior LIFG leaders, Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, to Tripoli where they allege they were tortured. 

Belhaj later returned to Libya and was a leading figure in the uprising against Gaddafi, while another former Libyan exile subjected to a control order in the UK was later tasked with providing security for visiting dignitaries including British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, MEE understands.

'When the revolution started, things changed' 

Ziad Hashem, an LIFG member granted asylum in the UK, said in 2015 that he had been imprisoned for 18 months without charge and then restricted to his home for a further three years based on information he believed had been supplied by Libyan intelligence. 

But he said:

"When the revolution started, things changed in Britain. Their way of speaking to me and treating me was different. They offered to give me benefits, even indefinite leave to remain or citizenship." 

Control orders were introduced as part of counter-terrorism legislation drafted in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings.

They allowed authorities to restrict the activities of people suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities by requiring them to remain at a registered address for up to 16 hours a day, subjecting them to electronic tagging, limiting their access to telephone and internet communications, and banning them from meeting or communicating with other people deemed to be of concern. 

At least 50 people were subjected to the measure with at least 12 Libyan exiles among them. Control orders were replaced with Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs), which allow authorities to impose many of the same restrictions while limiting their term to two years, in 2011.

The Home Office told MEE it did not comment on individual cases. 

It said that TPIMs were a robust and effective means for dealing with terrorism suspects who could not be prosecuted or deported.

It said that arrangements involving the police, the Home Office and the Security Service (MI5) had been put in place in 2011 during the transition from control orders to TPIMs to ensure that national security was maintained.