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Americas

Life got worse after Obama election, says released prisoner

Video by Richard TOMPSETT

Latest update : 2009-03-08

Freed Guantanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed, a UK resident, has said conditions at the US detention camp in Cuba have worsened since President Barack Obama was elected, claiming guards wanted to "take their last revenge".

AFP - A freed Guantanamo prisoner has said conditions at the US detention camp in Cuba have worsened since President Barack Obama was elected, claiming guards wanted to "take their last revenge".
   
Binyam Mohamed, the first detainee to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay since Obama took office, also said British agents "sold me out" by cooperating with his alleged torturers, in his first interview since release which was published Sunday.
   
Mohamed, a 30-year-old Ethiopian-born former British resident, gave further details of what he has called the "medieval" torture he faced in Pakistan and Morocco, as well as in a secret CIA prison in Kabul and at Guantanamo.
   
"The result of my experience is that I feel emotionally dead," he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. "It seems like a miracle my brain is still intact."
   
Far from improving, Mohamed said conditions at Guantanamo have worsened since Obama was elected in November.
   
The US president had promised during his campaign to shut down the Guantanamo prison and two days after taking office announced it would close this year.
   
"Since the election it's got harsher," Mohamed told the newspaper. "The guards would say, 'yes, this place is going to close down,' but it was like they wanted to take their last revenge."
   
He also claimed the Emergency Reaction Force at Guantanamo, a team which he said punishes inmates in their cells and once almost gouged his eyes out when he declined to give his fingerprints, is now being used more often.
   
Mohamed said he was beaten at Guantanamo and also described mistreatment at other detention centres.
   
He said his chest and penis were slashed with razors while he was held in Morocco.
   
In Afghanistan, he said he lived in constant darkness for five months and "came close to insanity" after being forced to listen to the same album by rapper Eminem at a deafening volume for a solid month.
   
He flew back to Britain last month, tasting freedom for the first time since 2002 when he was arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of attending an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and plotting to build a radioactive "dirty bomb".
   
But the United States never charged him, and British police also questioned him on his return and let him go free.
   
In the newspaper interview, Mohamed gave further details of his claim that British officials had colluded in his alleged torture.
   
He said while he was in Morocco in 2002, his Moroccan interrogators "started bringing British files to the interrogations... it was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London.
   
"When I realised that the British were cooperating with the people torturing me, I felt completely naked," he said. "They sold me out."
   
He said he subsequently made false confessions about one plot to build a "dirty" nuclear bomb and another to blow up apartments in New York linked to alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
   
The paper also quoted two telegrams, shown to Mohamed by his military lawyer, from Britain's MI5 security service to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in November 2002. They allegedly detail specific questions that the British wanted to be put to Mohamed.
   
"We note that we have also requested that briefs be put to Binyam Mohamed and would appreciate a guide from you as to the likely timescale for these too," one is quoted as saying.
   
"We fully appreciate that this can be a long-winded process but the urgent nature of these enquiries will be obvious to you."
   
In response to the claims, Britain's Foreign Office released a statement saying: "We abhor torture and never order it or condone it...
   
"In the case of Binyam Mohamed, an allegation of possible criminal wrong-doing has been referred to the Attorney General. We need now to wait for her report."
   
Mohamed is undergoing therapy to come to terms with his experiences.
   
Looking to the future, he said he wanted to stay in Britain, which is currently considering whether to let him remain. "It's the only place I can call home," he said.
   
In an editorial, this week's Independent on Sunday said his case was "only the most dreadful of many instances where the British government's policy seems to have been to turn a blind eye".
 

Date created : 2009-03-08

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