About Zeke Johnson

Zeke Johnson is the Director of Amnesty International USA's Security & Human Rights Campaign. He advocates for effective US security policies that comply with international law. His areas of expertise include detention, interrogation, lethal force and drones. He has testified before members of Congress about US drone strike policy and has served as an observer of the military commissions at US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. His analysis has been cited by the Associated Press, BBC News, CBS News, CNN, NPR, Politico, Reuters, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. For media inquiries, please contact 212.633.4256 or @ZekeJohnsonAi on Twitter.
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President Obama: Halt the Dakota Access Pipeline & Respect the Rights of Indigenous People

CANNON BALL, ND - DECEMBER 01:  Night falls on Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 1, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Native Americans and activists from around the country have been gathering at the camp for several months trying to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The proposed 1,172-mile-long pipeline would transport oil from the North Dakota Bakken region through South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CANNON BALL, ND – DECEMBER 01: Night falls on Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 1, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I’ve been on all four of Amnesty International’s human rights observer missions to Standing Rock. What I’ve seen there and on video has deeply concerned me. Non-violent Indigenous People opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline have been met with over-militarized policing and excessive, disproportionate and unnecessary military force. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

“Amnesty International members and activists are my heroes “: 12 Reasons to Write for Rights


I don’t know about you, but I hate writing. My hand cramps, I get ink everywhere and my penmanship is illegible. However, despite all that, every December 10th on International Human Rights Day, I sit down and write letters as part of Amnesty’s annual global Write for Rights campaign. Why? Because in my 10 years with Amnesty International, I know that letters can literally save lives.

For example, one of last year’s Write for Rights cases was Moses Akatugba. He was tortured in Nigeria as a teenager into confessing to stealing three cell phones, and then sentenced to death. Earlier this year, he was pardoned and walked free. He said, SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

ACT NOW: Don’t Let the U.S. Hide Shocking Details About CIA Torture

Khaled al-Maqtari (Photo Credit: Private).

Khaled al-Maqtari (Photo Credit: Private).

There are some things we do know about U.S. torture practices.

What we don’t yet know is whether the U.S. Government will ever come clean about the torture of detainees since 9/11.

In the next 7 days, we have an opportunity to win a major, historic victory against torture.

Our sources tell us that shocking, unreported details about CIA torture after 9/11 are in danger of being marked “classified” forever – when we know that it is only by shedding light on the darkest periods of our history that we are able to move forward with integrity.

Lawmakers are deciding as early as next week whether to make these details public. We have 7 days to flood the switchboards.

Help ensure that the U.S. Government does not use torture – in our names and with our tax dollars – ever again. Call your Senator now.


Good News on Guantánamo!

(Photo Credit: Zeke Johnson).

(Photo Credit: Zeke Johnson).

I’m at Guantánamo this week to observe – via an audio/video feed on 40-second delay to hide classified information, including evidence of torture – proceedings in the 9/11 case.

While it’s depressing to see what our tax dollars are buying here – including the Orwellian “Camp Justice” sign in front of the tents where we stay – there has been significant progress in the past few days toward closing the detention facility and ensuring justice and security in accordance with human rights standards:


Why Did Esperanza Spalding Record a Song About Guantanamo?

Esperanza Spalding – We Are America from ESP Media on Vimeo.

Today, Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding released We Are America, a new song and music video supporting President Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo and urging Congress to help get the job done.

The video features cameos by Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monáe, Harry Belafonte and Savion Glover. The timing couldn’t be better as Senators will soon vote on legislation that would help close the detention facility. You can urge your two Senators to vote the right way here: www.amnestyusa.org/ndaa.


The Plight of Guantanamo’s Cleared Detainees in A Powerful New Video

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The folks over at The Guardian released this creative animated video today based on the testimony of Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for transfer out of the detention facility but are still held.

Shaker Aamer is one of the people featured in the video. He has been detained for over 11 years without charge, despite being cleared to leave and despite UK Prime Minister David Cameron personally asking President Obama to return him to the UK. You can read Cameron’s letter to Amnesty International here.


12 Photographs of Hope & Remembrance on 9/11

Today marks twelve years since the September 11 attacks, a crime against humanity. As we reflect on that day and all that has happened since, here are 12 images intended to inspire hope for a better future.

People at a candlelight vigil the night of September 12, 2001. New York City (Photo Credit: Lynn Johnson via Getty Images).

People at a candlelight vigil the night of September 12, 2001. New York City (Photo Credit: Lynn Johnson via Getty Images).


5 Reasons President Obama Should Release Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier was a leading member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), an activist group that was involved in promoting the rights of “traditionalist” Indians during a period of intense conflict in the 1970s. On June 26, 1975, during a confrontation involving AIM members on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were shot dead.

Leonard Peltier was convicted of their murders in 1977 and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Leonard Peltier does not deny that he was present during the incident. However, he has always denied killing the agents as was alleged by the prosecution at his trial. Here are 5 reasons he should be released: