May 17, 2004 – A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner has come forward, claiming he was abused while in US detention, while evidence mounts suggesting videotapes of mistreatment archived at the US base in Cuba.
Tarek Dergal, a British citizen who spent 22 months in detention at Camp Delta is describing his abuse at the hands of members of what is known in the prison as the "Extreme Reaction Force (ERF)." Dergal said, "[the ERF] pepper-sprayed me in the face, and I started vomiting. They pinned me down and attacked me, poking their fingers in my eyes, and forced my head into the toilet pan and flushed. They tied me up like a beast and then they were kneeling on me, kicking and punching. Finally they dragged me out of the cell in chains, into the [recreation] yard, and shaved my beard, my hair, my eyebrows."
Other people recently released from the Guantanamo detention center have reported similar attacks. Dergal also said that abuses at the hands of the ERF were videotaped, and Lieutenant Colonel Leon Sumpter, the Guantanamo Joint Task Force spokesman confirmed that tapes exist. Sumpter said all actions by the ERF were filmed and kept in an archive. US lawmakers and other officials are demanding the tapes, which could prove that prisoner abuse is systemic in US-run detention centers, be released to Congress.