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More Guantanamo Torture Allegations Emerge

by NewStandard Staff

On the heels of leaked revelations that both the FBI and the Red Cross knew of severe abuses at the US’s infamous “enemy combatant” holding facility, two more detainees tell of violence, humiliation and deprivation.

Dec. 12, 2004 – Australian David Hicks, one of about 550 men held at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba detention center, has filed an affidavit alleging that captors have systematically abused him, sometimes along with others, since US troops first captured him on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, claims made early last summer by a Briton held at the camp emerged Saturday in a letter.

Hicks' affidavit includes charges of severe abuse. "I have been beaten before, after and during interrogations," it reads. The statement also claims captors have threatened him with guns; "beaten" him "while [Hicks was] handcuffed and blindfolded," once "over an eight hour session" along with other detainees; forcibly drugged him with injections of unknown medications; deprived him of food at the end of daily fasts during the holy period of Ramadan; and exposed him to sensory saturation and deprivation methods such as extreme light and extreme cold.

Hicks also reports that on one occasion interrogators said they would allow him fifteen minutes with a prostitute if he would snitch on fellow inmates -- an offer Hicks says he turned down.

The Australian media is reporting that the US government is investigating Hicks' allegations, but that country's attorney general tried to cast doubt on the claims, saying they appear to contradict earlier statements made by Hicks' defense team.

But Terry Hicks, David's father, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the affidavit confirms what he has been telling both the US and Australian governments, adding, "I suppose once again the Howard Government will say ‘David's a liar and the Americans don't do that sort of thing.’"

Hicks’ statements also echo a written account released in August by three British citizens formerly held at Guantánamo. That testimony, put out by the detainees’ lawyers, contains numerous allegations of torture, humiliation and violations of rights. Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed said US soldiers forcibly injected them with unknown drugs, brutally physically assaulted them, sexually violated and humiliated them, kept them in cages exposed to the sun, snakes and scorpions, degraded their religion and restricted their religious practice, kept them in solitary detention, interrogated them for long periods of time, and coerced false confessions.

Rasul, Iqbal and Rhuhel, along with another former detainee, are suing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other top military officials in US civil court for allegedly authorizing torture and violating their human rights.

In a separate statement released today, one of four British citizens still held at the Guantánamo prison told The Guardian of London that jailers have threatened, beaten and shackled him, as well as exposed him to extreme heat and permitted him to exercise for just half an hour every other day. The allegations, by inmate Martin Mubanga, appear in a letter written by an official in the UK's Foreign Office who visited Mubanga last June.

The correspondence, sent to the prisoner's family, claims that Mubanga "had been interrogated, shackled and not allowed to go to the toilet," The Guardian reports. "He said he had wet himself and had been forced to clean up the mess himself. Martin said that in another incident in June, he had been put in a room with the temperature at 97F... he knew the temperature because he had seen the dial."

According to the British Foreign Office, United States authorities have assured the UK that Mubanga's charges were investigated and proved baseless.

Last week documents surfaced reporting that FBI agents assigned to the island camp observed what they deemed to be mistreatment of prisoners there, and a Red Cross report leaked at the end of last month detailed findings that Americans are engaging in torture at the facility.

The Bush administration has labeled the men held at Guantánamo Bay "enemy combatants," in an attempt to deprive them of protections under international law. Most have been incarcerated at the Guantánamo facility for more than two years without access to lawyers and without having been charged of any crime.

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