The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
March 7th, 2009 - Guantanamo Prisoner Tells of Dark Afghan Prison
By Robert Barr
March 7, 2009
London - A former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay says his worst months in custody were spent in a dark prison in Afghanistan, where he says he was shackled in uncomfortable positions for days on end and blasted with constant loud music which made sleep impossible.
Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who was freed from the U.S. prison in Cuba on Feb. 23 after seven years in U.S. custody, described his time in Afghanistan in an interview published in The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
"That was when I came close to insanity," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "It seems like a miracle my brain is still intact."
Allegations of abuse in the "dark prison" surfaced in 2005 in a report by Human Rights Watch, based on accounts provided by lawyers for Mohamed and seven other prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian who came to Britain as a teenager, was accused of plotting al-Qaida attacks in the United States, but war crimes charges against him were dropped last year.
He was arrested in Pakistan on April 10, 2002 while trying to leave the country on a false passport.
Britain's High Court, ruling in a case brought by Mohamed's lawyers last year, said there was no evidence of where he was held until May 2004, when he was transferred to Bagram in Afghanistan.
The British government accepted, however, that Mohamed had established an arguable case that he was "detained unlawfully and incommunicado at the 'dark prison' near Kabul where he was subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by or on behalf of the United States."
Mohamed says he was taken to Morocco on a secret CIA rendition flight in July, 2002. He claims he was tortured during 18 months in Morocco, including having his penis cut.
In January 2004, he says, he was taken to the prison in Afghanistan, where he says he saw light only when guards carrying flashlights brought trays of food - food that often made him ill and caused him to lose weight rapidly, he says.
"The toilet in the cell was a bucket. Without light, you either find the bucket or you go on your bed," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
"There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out what felt like about 160 watts, a deafening volume, nonstop, 24 hours a day. They played the same CD for a month, 'The Eminem Show.' It's got about 20 songs on it and when it was finished it went back to the beginning and started again.
"While that was happening, a lot of the time, for hour after hour, they had me shackled. Sometimes it was in a standing position, with my wrists chained to the top of the door frame. Sometimes they were chained in the middle, at waist level, and sometimes they were chained at the bottom, on the floor.
"The longest was when they chained me for eight days on end, in a position that meant I couldn't stand straight nor sit. I couldn't sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night."
He said he was given one shower a week, "with your arms chained above you, stripped naked, in the dark, with someone else washing you."
"The water was salty and afterwards you felt dirtier than when you went in. It wasn't a shower for washing: it was for humiliation," he said.
"The floor was made of cement dust. Whatever movement you made, the air would be full of cement and I started getting breathing problems," he added.
Mohamed was moved out of the dark prison to another prison at Bagram air base in May 2004. In September, he was transferred to Guantanamo.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.
From Agence France Presse
March 7, 2009
London - A freed Guantanamo prisoner has said conditions at the US detention camp in Cuba have worsened since President Barack Obama was elected, claiming guards wanted to "take their last revenge".
Binyam Mohamed, the first detainee to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay since Obama took office, also said British agents "sold me out" by cooperating with his alleged torturers, in his first interview since release which was published Sunday.
Mohamed, a 30-year-old Ethiopian-born former British resident, gave further details of what he has called the "medieval" torture he faced in Pakistan and Morocco, as well as in a secret CIA prison in Kabul and at Guantanamo.
"The result of my experience is that I feel emotionally dead," he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. "It seems like a miracle my brain is still intact."
Far from improving, Mohamed said conditions at Guantanamo have worsened since Obama was elected in November.
The US president had promised during his campaign to shut down the Guantanamo prison and two days after taking office announced it would close this year.
"Since the election it's got harsher," Mohamed told the newspaper. "The guards would say, 'yes, this place is going to close down,' but it was like they wanted to take their last revenge."
He also claimed the Emergency Reaction Force at Guantanamo, a team which he said punishes inmates in their cells and once almost gouged his eyes out when he declined to give his fingerprints, is now being used more often.
Mohamed said he was beaten at Guantanamo and also described mistreatment at other detention centres.
He said his chest and penis were slashed with razors while he was held in Morocco.
In Afghanistan, he said he lived in constant darkness for five months and "came close to insanity" after being forced to listen to the same album by rapper Eminem at a deafening volume for a solid month.
He flew back to Britain last month, tasting freedom for the first time since 2002 when he was arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of attending an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and plotting to build a radioactive "dirty bomb".
But the United States never charged him, and British police also questioned him on his return and let him go free.
In the newspaper interview, Mohamed gave further details of his claim that British officials had colluded in his alleged torture.
He said while he was in Morocco in 2002, his Moroccan interrogators "started bringing British files to the interrogations... it was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London.
"When I realised that the British were cooperating with the people torturing me, I felt completely naked," he said. "They sold me out."
He said he subsequently made false confessions about one plot to build a "dirty" nuclear bomb and another to blow up apartments in New York linked to alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The paper also quoted two telegrams, shown to Mohamed by his military lawyer, from Britain's MI5 security service to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in November 2002. They allegedly detail specific questions that the British wanted to be put to Mohamed.
"We note that we have also requested that briefs be put to Binyam Mohamed and would appreciate a guide from you as to the likely timescale for these too," one is quoted as saying.
"We fully appreciate that this can be a long-winded process but the urgent nature of these enquiries will be obvious to you."
In response to the claims, Britain's Foreign Office released a statement saying: "We abhor torture and never order it or condone it...
"In the case of Binyam Mohamed, an allegation of possible criminal wrong-doing has been referred to the Attorney General. We need now to wait for her report."
Mohamed is undergoing therapy to come to terms with his experiences.
Looking to the future, he said he wanted to stay in Britain, which is currently considering whether to let him remain. "It's the only place I can call home," he said.
In an editorial, this week's Independent on Sunday said his case was "only the most dreadful of many instances where the British government's policy seems to have been to turn a blind eye".
Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.