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USA: Guantánamo, new torture testimony released as fourth 'anniversary' of illegal detentions marked

Former British detainee Moazzam Begg issues fresh condemnation

Amnesty International has today (11 January 2006) published new torture testimony from Guantánamo Bay to mark the fourth 'anniversary' of the beginning of illegal detentions at the military camp.

The testimonies include that of one of the first detainees to be taken to Guantánamo - Jumah al-Dossari, a 32-year-old Bahraini national. He was transported to the US naval base in January 2002 after being held by US forces in Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan.

Jumah al-Dossari’s testimony, corroborated by people who have now been released from Guantánamo, includes allegations of serious physical and psychological torture inflicted by US personnel both on him and on other inmates in Guantánamo and Afghanistan.

These include Mr Al-Dossari’s allegation that he was severely beaten by Guantánamo guards, suffered death threats and was also threatened with rape. On one occasion he says the Guantanamo Immediate Response Force repeatedly smashed his head against the floor until he lost consciousness.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Stephen Bowen said:

“It is shocking that four years after the first prisoners were taken to Guantánamo not a single person has received a proper trial and that over 500 people are still being held, most without any charge or due legal process.

“There’s no middle ground regarding Guantánamo. It must be closed and there must be an investigation into the dozens of torture reports that have emerged since 2002.�

Moazzam Begg, a British national who was released without charge from Guantánamo in January 2005, has also spoken out today, issuing fresh condemnation of the continuing detentions at the camp.

Mr Begg said:

“Guantánamo Bay has become a byword for all that is wrong with the US response to terrorism today, as well as an embarrassment for its allies.

"Tony Blair has called it an ‘anomaly that must come to an end’, while Angela Merkel says the place ‘should not exist’. But when exactly will this nightmare end?�

Amnesty International has today also revealed further details concerning the cases of Al-Jazeera journalist Sami al Hajj, transferred to Guantánamo in June 2002 after spending time in detention in Bagram and Kandahar, and also information on the case of Abdulsalam al-Hela, a Yemeni businessman, subjected to rendition and secret detention before being transferred to Guantánamo.

Today, thousands of Amnesty International members in more than 38 countries will send petitions to US President George Bush and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to bring all Guantánamo detainees to a fair trial and to investigate all reports of torture and ill-treatment in the detention centre.

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