Saturday, March 31, 2012

William Sampson

I don't normally venture into the fields of politics or current affairs, but this news item has affected me quite emotionally. I would not have even been aware of the death of William Sampson at age 52, had it not been for a a chance sighting of a fleeting mention on the news ticker on CBC News Network. While it was later mentioned during the actual CBC news broadcast, the news of his death has been largely ignored by the Canadian and world media, including our own national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. And that is a travesty, in my opinion.

William Sampson was a Canadian citizen working in the pharmaceutical industry, stationed in Saudi Arabia. In 2000, he was abducted and charged with some car bombings that resulted in the deaths of several of his colleagues. It is now widely believed that he and several others were falsely accused of these murders because the Saudi authorities were looking for some easy scapegoats and did not want to conduct a proper investigation that might have turned up a situation embarrassing to their own government. While in captivity, Mr. Sampson was beaten and brutally tortured, and deprived of sleep for more than a week at a time, before eventually being coerced into giving a phony confession to the murders. He also suffered two heart attacks believed to be due to long periods of sleep deprivation, and was sentenced to beheading for these trumped up charges. Though he was finally released from the Saudi jail in 2003, it was more due to the efforts of the British consul, not the Canadian, as the latter always just believed at face value what the Saudis told them without further investigation.

I remember being first aware of William Sampson a number of years ago when he was interviewed at length by Peter Mansbridge on CBC. I recall crying while watching him relate his horrific saga, and the man's story has stuck with me through the years since. So this week William Sampson has died of a heart attack, having been failed and forgotten by successive Canadian governments who were reluctant to do anything that might ruffle the feathers and embarrass their friends, the Saudis. Politics and mindless bureaucracy triumph once more. For those of you among my readers who are just as concerned over the plight of individuals like William Sampson as I am, please take the time to watch this interview with the man conducted by Democracy Now back in 2005. Aside from his account of his own horrific treatment, I appreciate his words (at 47:30) regarding what others have similarly experienced at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. It seems somehow tragically ironic that this good man has now died from a heart attack the very same week that former VP Dick Cheney has received a heart transplant, the same Dick Cheney responsible for okaying so many dubious interrogation techniques in the name of seeking "intelligence". Disgusting...


Mark Mayerson said...

Bravo, Peter.

Thad said...

There are dozens of similar true horror stories from all over the world. Why doesn't somebody make a highly publicized documentary about that for a change?

As for Cheney, it's amazing it was a heart transplant, as one infers he had a heart to begin with from that wording. I guess being a privileged war criminal buys you favors.