USA: Prisoner of conscience: Abdullah William Webster

Amnesty International, PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/052/2005  10 March 2005

Further Information on UA 267/04 (AMR 51/137/2004, 17 September 2004) -  Prisoner of Conscience and new concern: Health concern

USA Abdullah William Webster (m)

Abdullah Webster has spent over nine months in US military custody as a  prisoner of conscience. He has been jailed for his conscientious objection to  participating in the war in Iraq. He is apparently not receiving appropriate  medical care.

Abdullah Webster is on medication for high cholesterol and requires monthly  blood tests to check for the side-effects of the drug, which can include liver  damage. However, these tests were reportedly not carried out between October  and December 2004. In mid-January 2005, Abdullah Webster developed severe  stomach cramps and blood tests found abnormal readings related to the liver.

Abdullah Webster was sentenced by a US court martial to 14 months' imprisonment  on 3 June 2004, for refusing to participate in the war in Iraq on the basis of  his religious beliefs. His application for conscientious objector status had  been rejected and his request to be transferred to non-combat duties turned  down. When he refused to deploy to Iraq in February 2004, he was charged with  failing to obey commands from his superior and missing his brigade’s movements.

Originally held at the US military base in Bamberg, Germany where his unit was  stationed, Abdullah Webster was transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington State,  USA in October 2004. For the first two months of his detention at Fort Lewis,  he was not able to contact his family by telephone. Islamic services are also  believed to have been banned and during the Islamic fasting period of Ramadan  (fasting from dawn until sunset), he spent at least one 24-hour period without  any food or water.

Abdullah Webster is a US citizen who has served in the US army since 1985. He  had been due to retire this year. At the court martial hearing he also  received a bad conduct discharge and loss of pensions and other benefits.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION Abdullah Webster is the second conscientious objector imprisoned by the US  authorities solely on the basis of his conscientious objection to the war in  Iraq. Amnesty International adopted both men as prisoners of conscience and  called for both to be released immediately and unconditionally. Camilo Mejia  had been imprisoned in May 2004 for desertion, after he refused to return to  his unit in Iraq, where he had first been deployed in April 2003. He was  released from prison on 15 February, three months before the end of his  one-year sentence, on grounds of good conduct and is now back at home with his  family. (See UA 190/04, AMR 51/092/2004, 3 June 2004, and follow-up, for  details)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
- calling for Abdullah Webster to be released immediately and unconditionally, with restoration of his pension and other benefits, and pointing out that Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience;
- expressing serious concern at reports that he has not been receiving adequate medical attention;
-seeking assurances that he is now being given proper medical care;
-asking for assurances that he is being granted the right to perform religious duties in detention.


Raymond F. Dubois
Acting Secretary of the Army
102 Army Pentagon
Room 3E588
Washington DC 20310-0102
Fax:                +1 703 697 0720
Salutation:      Dear secretary

Lieutenant Commander Anthony Cruz
Commanding Officer
Fort Lewis Corrections Facility
Fort Lewis Bldg.  # 1450
Washington 98433
Fax                  + 1 253 967 – 6579
Salutation:       Dear Lieutenant Commander

Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington DC 20301
Fax:                + 1 703 697 8339
E-mail via:     http://www.defenselink.mil/faq/comment.html

 and to diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your country. 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 21 April 2005.

  See: Support Sue and Abdullah Webster punished for refusing to kill in Iraq

          USA: Prisoner of conscience: Abdullah William Webster