Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Amnesty releases new claims of torture, ill-treatment at Guantanamo Bay

LONDON (AFX) - Amnesty International has released fresh claims of the alleged torture and ill-treatment of terrorist suspects on the fourth anniversary of detainees being taken to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The testimonies from three men echo similar claims made by released prisoners and include allegations from one of the men that he was abducted by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of its 'extraordinary rendition' policy.

Abdulsalam al-Hela, a 34-year-old businessman from Sanaa, Yemen, allegedly 'disappeared' after travelling to Egypt for a meeting with a construction firm in September 2002.

The father-of-two was shackled, blindfolded and gagged, put on a small, private plane and taken, possibly via Azerbaijan, to Afghanistan, where he was held 'in secret, illegally and incommunicado' for two years, Amnesty said.

Amnesty said al-Hela suffered psychological torture at five prisons in or around Kabul, a number of them underground, before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2004.

Amnesty called for increased pressure to be put on the US government for the prisoners to be either released or given a fair trial and repeated its view that Guantanamo should be shut and an inquiry launched into the torture claims.

The most detailed testimony came from Jumah al-Dossari, a 32-year-old Bahraini national who was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and taken to Guantanamo in January 2002.

In an account of his detention, given to Amnesty through his lawyer, he repeated claims made by a former detainee last year that US soldiers regularly desecrated copies of the Koran.

He also spoke of beatings, sexual assaults, threats to his family and having to endure lengthy periods in solitary confinement, plus disease, illness and infection being rife among those held at the camp.

Journalist Sami al Hajj, a 35-year-old Sudanese national working for Arabic satellite news channel Al-Jazeera, made similar allegations after being detained following an assignment covering the 2002 conflict in Afghanistan.

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