Freed Australian tells of torture

Former Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamduh Habib has said he was routinely subjected to torture during his three years in US custody.

    Habib is not the first inmate to claim he was regularly tortured

    In a paid interview with Australia's Nine Network television station on Sunday, the Egyptian-born Australian national said he was subjected to electric shocks and beatings every day and even threatened with sexual abuse by a trained dog after he was taken to Egypt from Pakistan, where he was arrested in late 2001.
    While under torture, he said he made a series of false confessions, including that he trained people to hijack aircraft to fly them into the World Trade Centre in New York, and also that he had fought in Chechnya. 
    Freed without charge

    Habib maintained: "I have been through a lot, I have been harmed for no reason. I am innocent."   

    "I have been through a lot, I have been harmed for no reason. I am innocent."

    Mamduh Habib, former Guantanamo Bay detainee

    A 50-year-old father of four, he arrived home in Sydney late last month after three and a half years in the custody of US authorities who eventually released him without charge from the naval base in Cuba.
    The former Sydney cleaner was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and then transferred to Egypt, where he claims he was tortured before being sent in May 2002 to Guantanamo Bay.
    US authorities accused him of having trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and of having prior knowledge of the 11 September 2001 attacks, but eventually did not bring forth any charge.
    Another detainee

    A second Australian, David Hicks, remains in Guantanamo Bay where he is due to face a military tribunal on terrorism-related charges.
    Habib told Channel Nine he had been in Pakistan to look for schools for his children because he had decided to leave Australia after being followed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) for two years before 2001.
    Asked if he had been in Afghanistan as well, he refused to answer - saying he would do so only before a judge.
    Habib, who appeared close to tears on two occasions, said that shortly after he was arrested in 2001, an Australian official visited him at a military airport in Pakistan and watched as he was tortured.
    "He seen me tortured in the airport," Habib said in broken English. Asked if the Australian had been involved in the abuse, Habib replied: "No. Australian was watching me when I been beaten."

    During the particular episode of abuse, Habib said 15 men stripped him, inserted something into his anus and tied him up.

    The US holds suspects in Cuba
    outside of international law

    "They make photograph of me (in) front of him and they make video," he said.
    "They have a dog, they make me naked, then they bring the dog and they say this dog do sexuals with a human," he said.

    "The dog was behind me all the time but it doesn't do anything to me, (it was) just to scare me."
    The interview, which reportedly cost Channel Nine $155,000, was Habib's first in Australia since he returned last month after his release from Guantanamo Bay.

    Passport cancelled

    Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the government had repeatedly raised allegations of torture with US authorities, but a preliminary report had failed to find evidence of abuse or torture against Habib or David Hicks.
    Downer said he had cancelled Habib's passport because of the adverse assessment by ASIO, made independently of US intelligence.
    "On the basis of the adverse security report that I have received from ASIO, I have cancelled his passport and I think that is in the best interest of both Australian and the broader international community," he told the Nine Network. 
    Habib will remain in Australia, but could face charges of terrorism under national laws.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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