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Guantanamo inmates said in worse conditions

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  • Guantanamo inmates said in worse conditions

    By Suleiman al-Khalidi

    AMMAN (Reuters) - Some Guantanamo Bay prisoners have been moved to a new wing where they face the worst conditions since their arrival, as interrogators make a last attempt to extract confessions, a U.S. lawyer said on Friday.

    Zachary Katznelson, who represents 36 detainees, said that since he last saw his clients there in December at least 160 of the 395 prisoners had been moved to solitary confinement in "Camp 6", the latest modern facility to be opened at the base.

    "Since they were moved, every lawyer is reporting clients extremely depressed, some becoming psychotic. The men say this is the harshest treatment since they arrived five years ago," Katznelson said in an interview with Reuters.

    More than 770 people have been held at the U.S. military base in Cuba since the prison camp opened there in January 2002, and only 10 have been charged with crimes. About 395 remain, suspected of links to al Qaeda and the Taliban and kept in modern maximum security cells.

    Many people have called for the detainees to be charged with crimes or released. U.S. officials say they are a threat to the United States and could return to the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq if released.

    Inmates in the new camp were locked "in extreme isolation in six-foot by eight-foot cells with lights on 24 hours and all they have are an inch-thin mattress, a steel platform to sleep, a steel sink and toilet and the Koran," Katznelson said.

    "They are turning on air-conditioning up to a maximum, freezing the prisoners," said the U.S. lawyer, a senior counsel with the British-based rights group Reprieve.

    Katznelson said the tougher policy was tied to an assumption that time was running out for interrogators to yield results, as pressure grew for Washington to close the controversial prison.

    "They want to do whatever is possible to break them mentally in the hope that somehow they will reveal some kernel of information they have been withholding for five years," he said.

    More than 100 have been kept in less harsh solitary confinement conditions in Camp 5 for the past two years while 130 others had regular contact with fellow prisoners, Katznelson said.

    U.S. President George W. Bush has made no move to close Guantanamo but has been under pressure by rights groups to allow countries to assume responsibility for their own nationals and to allow for its closure as soon as possible.

    "They know many of these people will go home soon. They are still pushing them, pushing them...even though are saying we have nothing left to say," Katznelson said.

    U.S military prosecutors are expected to bring cases against between 60 and 80 of those still held. About 380 detainees have been sent home, 114 of them last year.

    Katznelson, said "declassified information" he received showed that, since October, the level of beatings had risen dramatically.

    "Entire cans of Mace have been sprayed in prisoners' faces. Prisoners are being denied medical care unless they give information to interrogators," Katznelson said.

    Many of the men held at Guantanamo Bay were captured in Afghanistan in the U.S.-led war to oust the Taliban in 2001 after the September 11 attacks. Many have been held for years and nearly all are being held without trial.

    More inmates returned home in the past six months than in any period since the prison was opened, Katznelson said.

    He said Yemen was seeking to get back its 100 citizens, the largest national group at the base. Saudi Arabia took back at least 60 of its nationals last year. Afghanistan had only 70 detainees after at least 140 inmates were handed over, most freed outright on their return.

    "In the last few months, more states are saying we want our sons back. We will put them on trial if there is any evidence against them but we want to do justice for our men," Katznelson.

  • #2
    when any human gets tortured for that long, they'll say anything to end it


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