USA/Jordan: America's secret 'war on terror' detentions and out-sourced torture condemned

The two men, Salah Nasser Salim 'Ali and Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah, who are still imprisoned without trial in Yemen on the instructions of the US authorities, have told Amnesty International that their captors were US guards who interrogated them every day.

The men, who were held separately but report almost identical experiences, say that loud Western music was piped into their cells. They also believe that other people were being transferred to secret detentions centres.

Both men, who had been living in Indonesia, were flown to the jails in secret and were never informed where they were, not even knowing in which country they were being held.

They were questioned about al-Qa'ida but never charged, never allowed lawyers or permitted visits of any kind.

Amnesty International North America researcher Sharon Critoph, who interviewed the two men in Yemen, said:

"To be 'disappeared' from the face of the earth without knowing why or for how long is a crime under international law and an experience no-one should have to go through.

"We fear that what we have heard from these two men is just one small part of the much broader picture of US secret detentions around the world. The US authorities must disclose the identities of all people who are being held in secret, where they’re being held, and open these places up to international scrutiny."

Salah, 27, was arrested in Indonesia in August 2003 when shopping in Jakarta with his Indonesian wife. Muhammad, 37, was detained in Jordan in October 2003 after travelling there with his wife to be with his mother who was set to have medical treatment in the country.

The two men are friends but for the duration of their secret detention had no knowledge of the other's confinement.

Allegations of torture in Jordan

Both men claim that they were tortured for four days by members of the Jordanian intelligence services in what appears to have been a pre-arranged process of "outsourced torture".

Alleged methods of torture included heavy beatings, including on the soles of the feet with sticks (a torture known as falaqa) while suspended upside down with hands and feet tied.

Salah reports being threatened with sexual abuse and electro-shock torture and being made to sit on a bottle so that it would penetrate his anus. Muhammad is too traumatised to give details of his torture.

Secret flights and illegal US detention

After torture and solitary confinement in Jordan both men claim that they were blindfolded and shackled and flown in what they believe was a small military plane for between 3.5 and 4.5 hours.

Both report being taken to an undisclosed underground jail, held for between six and eight months, and interrogated every day by US officials about their activities in Indonesia and Afghanistan.

The process was apparently then repeated, with both men flown to a second underground jail, described as extremely modern.

Here interrogations were continued, with Muhammad describing interrogation by US guards entirely disguised by their clothing "like Ninjas". In both jails loud Western music was piped into their solitary confinement cells 24 hours a day in what is believed to be a form of psychological disorientation technique.

Detention without charge or trial in Yemen

On or around 5 May 2005 both men were finally - and without explanation - transferred to Yemen.

However they are still being held without charge or trial at Aden central prison. The Yemeni authorities have admitted to Amnesty International that they are only being held because the US had made it a condition of their release from secret detention.

One Yemeni official complained to Amnesty International:

"now we are running prisons for the Americans."

Amnesty International has previously reported on the longterm detention without charge or trial of prisoners in Yemen at the official behest of the US authorities. The human rights organisation's present report also raises the case of a Yemeni man - Walid Muhammad Shabir Muhammad al-Qadasi - returned to Yemen from Guantanamo Bay in April 2004. He is still imprisoned in Yemen at the request of the American authorities.

He was originally detained in 2001 and has never been charged with a criminal offence.

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