Bush Cancels Swiss Visit Amid Torture Complaints

Organizer say he feared legal action
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2011 2:32 PM CST
Bush Cancels Swiss Visit Amid Torture Complaints
Former President George W. Bush gives a Veterans Day address, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

(Newser) – A visit by George W. Bush to Switzerland later this month has been called off because the host charity says it feared leftist protests would get out of hand. Human rights groups, meanwhile, say the real reason is because they planned to lodge a criminal complaint against Bush accusing him of sanctioning torture, reports Reuters. Bush had been scheduled to speak to a Jewish group Feb. 12 in Geneva, and an attorney for the group says the potential legal action played no role in the decision to cancel, notes the Hill.

"We didn't want to put people and property in Geneva at risk," he said, citing plans by protesters to arrive en masse. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch had a different take: "He's avoiding the handcuffs." Noting that Bush acknowledged in his memoir that he approved waterboarding, "authorities would have been obliged to open an investigation and either prosecute or extradite" him, said the spokesman. (Read more George W. Bush stories.)

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