Father demands release of his British son after claims of torture at Guantanamo Bay

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

The Independent

05 August 2004

The father of a British man being held in Guantanamo Bay called on the Government yesterday to bring home the detainees immediately following new claims of sexual, physical and psychological torture. Moazzam Begg, who is still in solitary confinement at the United States' military facility in Cuba after two and a half years, was described in a report published yesterday as being "in a very bad way".

Azmat Begg said his son's condition was deteriorating and he was being subjected to sense-deprivation. "They are giving him drops to stop his hearing. Now he can hardly hear anything. They have burst his ear drums. They are also pulling his toes with pliers."

Mr Begg said communication with his son, a father of four children, was virtually impossible, because letters were so heavily censored.

"They should bring them back. If they have done something wrong they should be punished, if not they should be released." Five of the nine Britons held at Guantanamo have been released without charge by the US authorities while four remain incarcerated.

Military hearings are under way at the camp to ascertain whether detainees should continue to be held. Yesterday it was reported that four of the men had refused to cooperate with the proceedings.

A 115-page dossier, Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, produced by the lawyers of three of the recently released British men, said inmates had been shackled, punched, kicked, hooded and deprived of sleep. Amnesty International condemned the treatment, which drew comparisons with Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison where inmates were ritually humiliated. British Government agencies were accused of complicity.

In the report, released in New York, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul - the so-called Tipton Three - said one inmate was threatened after being shown a video in which hooded inmates were forced to sodomise each other. Guards allegedly threw prisoners' Korans into toilets, while others were injected with drugs.

The men, who are held in outdoor cages, were bitten by scorpions and snakes, the report said. Internal body searches were made and detainees were photographed naked. Speaking at the report's launch at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, the CCR president, Michael Ratner, called for an independent commission. "This report calls into question the reliability of any information obtained from any detainee," Mr Ratner said. "Every bit of information has been acquired using unlawful techniques."

Conditions deteriorated when Major General Geoffrey Miller, who took charge of Abu Ghraib in August 2003, took over at Guantanamo. New practices were introduced such as shackling detainees in squatting positions. Spells in isolation were lengthened to months at a time.