Four British men who were detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for nearly three years sued the US government today, alleging torture and other human rights violations.
In the first action of its kind, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal al-Harith each demanded ?5.5 million (10 million US dollars) in the suits, filed in Washington DC.
Among the defendants named are US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, and the former head of the prison camp Major General Geoffrey Miller.
The former detainees, who were released in March, claim that they were subjected to abuse and beatings during their “arbitrary” detention at the US naval base in Cuba.
After they were freed, the men – three of whom are from Tipton, West Midlands, and Mr al-Harith, 37, from Manchester – were questioned by British police but quickly released without charge.
The lawsuits were filed in Washington by the men’s lawyers at Baach Robinson and Lewis. The men are being supported by the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights.
The action is being brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act, Geneva Conventions, and Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to a statement from the Centre for Constitutional Rights.
The case, if it proceeds, will be heard in the Federal District Court in Washington DC.
In August, Mr Ahmed, 22, Mr Rasul, 27, and Mr Iqbal, 22, accused the US of a shocking catalogue of abuses.
In a 115-page dossier, the three men alleged that they were beaten, stripped, shackled and deprived of sleep during their detention.
It was alleged that guards threw prisoners’ Korans into toilets and attempted to force them to give up their religious faith.
There were claims that detainees were forcibly injected with unidentified drugs and intimidated with military dogs.
The Tipton Three each said they eventually gave false confessions that they appeared in a video with al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta, one of the September 11 hijackers, despite the fact that they could prove they were in Britain when the video was made.
In recent months, the men’s plight was turned into a play, performed in London and New York.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu appeared in the show in New York recently and called the prison camp a “disgrace”.
A news conference about the lawsuits is expected soon.