US silent on Guantanamo abuse claim

No comment on claim made to Al Jazeera that prisoner was abused by prison guards.

    Al-Qurani told Al Jazeera in a phone call he had been subjected to ill-treatment almost daily

    Navy Lieutenant-Commander Brook DeWalt, a Guantanamo spokesman, said: "I can tell you that detainees are allowed weekly phone calls, detainees provide their family names and phone numbers.

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    "If a prisoner called someone not a relative, that would be in violation of policy."

    The call is believed to be the first made from Guantanamo Bay to a media organisation by an inmate.

    Al-Qurani said he ended up with a broken tooth after one incident of tear-gassing and beating.

    Dewalt said the authorities at Guantanamo had no evidence to support al-Qurani's claims.

    In January a US judge ordered the release of al-Qurani, who was only 15-years-old when he was captured in Pakistan in 2001, after saying there was no evidence to justify his detention.

    He is currently in a separate camp in Guantanamo called Camp Iguana, where prisoners go after they have been approved for release before being transfered.

    Cory Crider, a member of al-Qurani's legal team, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday it was hard to ascertain how al-Qurani had been treated in recent months as the situation varied from camp to camp within the facility and also there had been  "ramping up" of secrecy in the new administration.

    However, Crider said the last time she saw al-Qurani before his transfer to Camp Iguana she had seen abrasions on his hands "that I don't really think he did himself".

    "I think that where he is now is a significant, significant improvement over where he was before but there's no question ... that over the years this kid has been seriously mistreated," she said.

    Case raised 

    The ambassador of Chad to the US told Al Jazeera on Tuesday he would raise the claims of abuse of one of its citizens with the US authorities.

    Barack Obama pledged to end abuse
    at Guantanamo Bay [AFP]
    "I will bring these allegations to my authorities and also will talk to my counterparts at the state department," Mahmoud al-Bashir said.

    Al-Bashir said he would raise the case with the Office of War Crimes, which advises Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, on international and domestic war-crimes issues.

    The envoy also said al-Qurani was subjected to mistreatment when he was detained in Pakistan in 2001.

    "When he was detained he was only 15 years old. He was not treated as underage. He was treated in isolation. He was subjected to ill-treatment. And we have been working closely with the state department to solve it," he said.

    Al-Bashir also said that he had been told that al-Qurani had been set to be released earlier this month and that the Chadian government had assured the US he would be treated fairly on his return.

    Abuses 'continuing'

    Al-Qurani said in a phone call to Al Jazeera that the alleged ill-treatment "started about 20 days" before Barack Obama became US president and "since then I've been subjected to it almost every day".

    More than 200 prisoners are still held at the
    Guantanamo prison camp [GALLO/GETTY]
    On his second day in office, Obama ordered the closure of the prison, which has been heavily criticised by rights groups over reports of ill-treatment of detainees.

    He also ordered that prisoners held there be treated in line with the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the abuse of detainees.

    Ramzi Kassem, a lawyer for some detainees at Guantanamo Bay, said his clients had been subjected to similar abuses at Guantanamo Bay over the past two years and that the situation had remained the same despite the Obama administration coming to power.

    "The problem is that the people at Guantanamo are still playing by the old rules - they haven't heard anything to the contrary from the new president," Kassem said.

    "He ordered a review of conditions to make sure that things at Guantanamo were consistent with the Geneva Conventions.

    "However, he tasked the department of defence with conducting that review, so the same people... who had been running the operation for years were charged with being critical of their own operation.

    "So, when the report came out, it said that everything was all right. It really wasn't critical and independent in the ways we would have wanted."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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