Detainees ‘bashed, given drugs’

Australian terror suspect David Hicks says he was forcibly injected with drugs and had his head smashed into asphalt while blindfolded as part of his interrogation at Guantanamo Bay.

Hicks has also told of being beaten for hours at a time, denied food and forced to run in leg shackles that ripped the skin off his ankles.

In an affidavit released today, and which details publicly for the first time his own claims of torture in Guantanamo Bay, Hicks said he was offered a prostitute in return for spying on other prisoners.

He also said his fellow detainees were terrorised by attack dogs.

Hicks has been held at the US detention centre in Cuba since January 2002, after being detained while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan a few months earlier.

“I have been struck with hands, fists, and other objects (including rifle butts),” Hicks, 29, of Adelaide, said in the affidavit that was sealed in August and released by his lawyers today.

“I have had my head rammed into asphalt several times (while blindfolded).

“I have had handcuffs placed on me so tightly, and for so long (as much as 14-15 hours) that my hands were numb for a considerable period thereafter.

“I have been struck while under the influence of sedatives that were forced upon me by injection.

“I was told repeatedly that if I cooperated during the course of these interrogations, I would be sent home to Australia after the interrogations were concluded.

“Failure to cooperate meant the loss of the ordinary necessities of living, such as showers, sufficient food, relief from … regular abuse.”

Hicks said he watched members of the Internal Reaction Force – a military squad used to subdue problem detainees – enter a man’s cell and “brutalise him with the aid of an attack dog”.

He said the IRF invasions were so common, detainees referred to the practice as being “IRF’ed”.

“I have seen detainees suffer serious injuries as a result of being IRF’ed,” he said.

He said after he was moved to Camp Echo, he was held in solitary confinement and did not see sunlight for eight months.

Hicks has since been moved from Camp Echo to Camp Delta ahead of his military trial set down for March, when he will face charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes, aiding the enemy and attempted murder.

The Pentagon today said some of the allegations made by Hicks and others would be investigated.

Joshua Dratel, Hicks’ US civilian attorney, said Hicks’ conditions had improved although he would not say whether any of the alleged abuse was continuing.

Hicks’ Adelaide-based lawyer Stephen Kenny called for the Australian government to fully investigate the alleged mistreatment because the US had shown little interest in doing so in the past.

The release of the affidavit follows the publication earlier this week of several memos from FBI agents to Guantanamo Bay that warned about the abuse and mistreatment of detainees as early as the start of the detention mission.

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 Koran and an attack dog used to intimidate a detainee.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today cast doubt on the validity of Hicks’ claims and said it was at odds with earlier statements by Hicks’ lawyers that he was humanely treated.

Mr Ruddock said Hicks’ abuse allegations were documented at the Australian government’s request but the allegations would be investigated by US authorities with no separate probe by Australia.

Mr Kenny said the US to date had shown little interest in investigating mounting reports of mistreatment.

“Given the extent of the detail and the consistency of the various reports of ill treatment at Guantanamo Bay, there can be no doubt that these allegations are true,” he said.

“It appears to me the Americans have little interest in investigating these matters because they have been aware of them, and the allegations have been fully detailed to them, for at least six months in David’s case and longer in the case of others.”

Hicks’ father Terry was not surprised by the affidavit’s content and said details of other abuses were yet to be publicly revealed.

“There’s still a lot of things down the line that will hopefully come out,” Terry Hicks said.

A confidentiality agreement signed with US authorities prevents Terry Hicks and members of David Hicks’ legal team from detailing other abuses.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
AAP, Australia
Dec. 10, 2004
Lauren Ahwan

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday December 11, 2004.
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