Two British men released from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay say interrogators forced prisoners to strip, chained them to a floor for hours and used deafening music and dogs to extract confessions.
In an open letter sent yesterday to US President George Bush and the Senate Armed Services Committee, Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, detail the alleged abuse they suffered during the two years they were held at the US naval base detention centre in eastern Cuba.
They said they were forced to squat with their hands chained between their legs for hours during interrogations when guards used strobe lights, dogs and loud music – particularly from US rapper Eminem – to extract information. They also say they were not allowed to use the bathroom during interrogations which often lasted 12 hours.
The new allegations come as officials try to diffuse a firestorm of criticism over the treatment of prisoners in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, where recently released pictures show half-clothed detainees being forced to pose in sexually humiliating positions with US troops.
“We have never applied any of those techniques,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Leon Sumpter, a spokesman for the detention centre.
Rasul and Iqbal, both from Tipton in the West Midlands, said detainees often were forced to go naked as punishment for minor offences, even when female guards were present.
“Soldiers told us, ‘We can do anything we want’,” they said in the letter released by the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, which is providing counsel to the men. Both are back in Britain following their release on March 8.
Lt Col Sumpter said detainees only are asked to undress if they require medical treatment or have arrived for processing.
The pair said they saw two detainees assaulted by guards, including Jummah Al-Dousari from Bahrain, who in April 2002 was allegedly beaten by a group of guards while he was recovering from surgery and receiving psychiatric treatment.
“They stamped on his neck, kicked him in the stomach even though he had metal rods there as a result of an operation, and they picked up his head and smashed his face into the floor. One female officer was ordered to go into the cell and kick him and beat him – which she did,” the letter said.
Guantanamo officials have said two guards have been given administrative punishments – for hitting a detainee with a radio and spraying a detainee with a hose. A third guard was cleared of wrongdoing.
Rasul and Iqbal said US troops would often hose excrement and urine off plastic chairs used in interrogation rooms instead of allowing detainees to use the bathrooms.
They also accused Major General Geoffrey Miller of instituting new interrogation procedures, particularly “short-shackling” or shackling a detainee to a hook in the floor to limit movement.
General Miller, who was in charge of the Guantanamo mission from November 2002 to March this year, is now in charge of US prisons in Iraq, where he has promised sweeping reforms.
Rasul and Iqbal were among five Britons released from Guantanamo whom the British government freed without charge after determining they were not a security threat. The US government accuses the men of training with Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime.
Some 600 prisoners still are held in Guantanamo on suspicion of links to the ousted Taliban regime or al-Qaida terror network. None have been charged or allowed to see lawyers. Some have been held more than two years.