"America generally we consider a champion of liberty, justice, these things - so then for something such as this to happen, we regard as shocking," said the exiled leader of Tibet's Buddhists on Monday to Britain's Guardian newapaper.

The ageing monk is on a week-long visit to Britain, drawing large crowds to his lectures, but he will not meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He said Tibetans had much experience of abuse at the hands of their Chinese occupiers: "A lot of torture, a lot of abuse, sexual abuse."

Chinese troops imposed Communist rule on Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama fled nine years later after a failed uprising.

China claims Tibet as part of its territory and accuses the Buddhist monk of separatist activities.

Photographs and videotapes of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison have battered US President George Bush's election-year approval ratings, alienated public sentiment in the Arab world and even sparked protests from occupation allies.