Lawyers explain Pakistan trip by ‘Guantánamo Swede’

Lawyers representing a former Swedish terror suspect who spent time in the United States’ Guantánamo Bay prison, claim their client was not traveling to any trouble spots when he was arrested in Pakistan in August.

Lawyers explain Pakistan trip by 'Guantánamo Swede'

Mehdi Ghezali was arrested on August 28th along with fellow Swedes Munir Awad, 28, 19-year-old Safia Benaouda, and their two and a half-year-old boy while traveling with a group of other foreigners near Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province.

The group was suspected of traveling from Quetta to Miranshah, the main city in the lawless region of northern Waziristan, where they were to meet an alleged Taliban leader named Zahir Noor.

After spending more than a month in the custody of Pakistani officials, Ghezali and the other Swedes were released on October 11th. No terror charges were ever filed, although Ghezali was cited for entering the country without a proper visa.

In an attempt to clear the air surrounding the circumstances of the trip, Ghezali’s attorneys, Peter Althin and Anton Strand, have provided an account of their client’s trip in an article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

According to the lawyers, Ghezali and his Swedish companions were in Pakistan as a part of a pilgrimage to celebrate Ramadan in a “larger Pakistani city”. At the time of their arrest, one of the Swedes had claimed they were heading to a meeting with a Muslim revivalist movement in the city of Lahore.

The lawyers explain that the decision to travel to Pakistan arose while the group was traveling through other countries in the Middle East and that the trip was arranged by a tour operator, which had told Ghezali and the other Swedes that visas could be arranged en route.

Althin and Strand are highly critical of both the Swedish state and the media over the way they’ve treated their client.

The attorneys explain that, despite Ghezali being released from Guantánamo in 2004 without being accused of any wrong doing, he and his family have been under the surveillance of Swedish security service Säpo ever since.

“The situation seems familiar to all of us who’ve read Franz Kafka,” the attorneys write.

They also feel the Swedish media’s coverage of Ghezali has been marked by “xenophobic undertones”.

They add that their client simply wants to be “left in peace.”

“As no government agency has ever accused him of terrorism or spying, it seems a reasonable request that the Swedish press corps can also abstain from formulating those types of accusations,” write Altin and Strand.

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Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.