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Detainee's affidavit details abuse he suffered at Guantanamo

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Prisoners at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been beaten while blindfolded and handcuffed, terrorized by attack dogs and forced to take drugs, an Australian detainee said in an affidavit released Thursday.

David Hicks, 29, was one of the first prisoners to arrive at the camp in eastern Cuba in January 2002. He is one of only four terror suspects who have been formally charged among 550 detainees there accused of links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or the al-Qaida terror network.

"At one point, a group of detainees, including myself, were subjected to being randomly hit over an eight-hour session while handcuffed and blindfolded," Hicks said in an affidavit sealed in August and released by his attorneys Thursday. "I have been struck with hands, fists and other objects, including rifle butts. I have also been kicked."

The government maintains prisoners are treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. U.S. policy condemns and prohibits torture.

"When we have credible allegations of detainee abuse we take those very seriously and investigate them," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said.

Some of the allegations made by Hicks and others would be investigated, he said.

The release of the affidavit comes the same week as the publication of several documents that show FBI agents sent to Guantanamo Bay warned the government of abuse and mistreatment as early as the start of the detention mission. One letter, written by a senior Justice Department official and obtained by The Associated Press, suggested the Pentagon did not act on the FBI complaints.

The memos document abuses, including a female interrogator grabbing a detainee's genitals and bending back his thumbs, most of a prisoner's head being covered with duct tape because he would not stop quoting from the Quran and an attack dog used to intimidate a detainee, who later showed "extreme psychological trauma."

Hicks is scheduled to be tried in a military commission in March.

"They (the government) put up this stone wall of denial and what this shows was not only that they were wrong but they were disingenuous," said Joshua Dratel, Hicks' civilian defense attorney. "They were getting these reports all along."


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