Habib wins court case against Murdoch press


On March 16, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib won his case for defamation against an article by Piers Akerman in February 2005 in the Daily Telegraph.

Habib told Green Left Weekly that this judgement, "Helps to more open the eyes of people around [the] world about American torture in Egypt and Guantanamo … The door of justice is now wider."

The New South Wales Court of Appeals reversed an earlier judgement, which found in favour of the Telegraph in March 2008.

Akerman's article implied Habib lied about the torture he received after he was detained in Pakistan in 2001, illegally taken to Egypt by US forces and then held at the notorious US naval base in Guantanamo Bay.

In January 2005, Habib was released without charge.

In the 2008 defamation trial, the jury had found the article was capable of defaming Habib. Incredibly, the presiding judge in the case, Justice Peter McClellan, overruled the jury's decision and declared the article true and in the public interest.

This was done on the basis of accepting evidence from "interviews" in Pakistan and Guantanamo Bay, despite evidence that these "interviews" were interrogations involving torture.

The March 15 judgment strikes out McClellan's ruling and grants Habib the right to damages, to be determined in a common law court.

It also forces Nationwide News, the owner of the Daily Telegraph, to pay the full costs of the trial to date, expected to run into millions of dollars.