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Guantánamo Man’s Family Release ‘Torture’ Dossier
· Relatives of UK resident publicise allegations
· Family of Libyan national release detailed dossier
By Vikram Dodd, Guardian/UK
A British resident held by the US as an alleged terrorist has claimed his captors repeatedly tortured him, subjecting him to beatings, sexual abuse and threats of execution.
Omar Deghayes, 37, is one of five British residents who the United Kingdom government last week asked the US to release from Guantanámo Bay, after years of refusing to help them because they were not UK citizens.
Yesterday the family of Mr Deghayes decided to release a detailed dossier of alleged torture which the former law student dictated to a lawyer who visited him in the Cuban internment camp.
He is a Libyan national whose family fled to the UK after their trade unionist father was murdered by the Gadafy regime in 1980.Mr Deghayes was captured in Pakistan - his family claim by bounty hunters - after the US attacked Afghanistan. They say he had gone there to start a business exporting dried fruit to a leading supermarket.In the dossier, he claims to have seen US guards kill people, witnessed prisoners being partially drowned, and saw the Qur’an thrown into a toilet by a US guard.
The new claims come after earlier Guardian reports of Mr Deghayes’s ill treatment, including allegations that he was left blinded in one eye after a soldier plunged his finger into it, and claims that he had human excrement smeared on his face.
Mr Deghayes grew up in Brighton and studied law at Wolverhampton University and then studied in Huddersfield. His family say he is not a terrorist and opposed violence.
The US says al-Qaida tells its operatives to allege ill treatment, though parts of Mr Deghayes’ account are consistent with those from former detainees.
The dossier contains far more allegations and detail than previously made public. Mr Deghayes says “sexual abuse did occur”, but says he can not bear to relive the details until he is released: “It is very distressing and sad to go through and remember again.”
He says he was threatened with being sent back to Libya where his family fear he would be killed.
He was first arrested in Lahore, Pakistan, in late 2001-early 2002, then taken to Bagram in Afghanistan, before being sent to Guantánamo Bay.
The allegations challenge President George Bush’s repeated claims that the US does not use torture.
He says that in Lahore prison he was subjected to electric shocks: “The more I scream they will laugh and do it again … my screams all in vain.”
He says that in Pakistan he was handed over to the Americans who hooded him and placed him on plane in a torture position.
“Two soldiers locked their arms into mine and lifted me off the ground. All my [weight] borne by my arms which were shackled behind my back.
“I was thrown in the plane. There were many others in the torture position.”
After he was moved to Bagram in Afghanistan, he says he saw electric shocks used on other detainees and here he also saw death threats, with guards pointing their rifles at the Muslim men.
He says he also witnessed a prisoner shot dead after he had gone to the aid of an inmate who was being beaten and kicked by the guards: “The American said he tried to take the gun.”
Another inmate was beaten to death: “One by the name of Abdaulmalik, Moroccan and Italian, was beaten until I heard no sound of him after the screaming.
“There was afterwards panic in prison and the guards running about in fear saying to each other the Arab has died. I have not seen this young man again.”
Another inmate, Mr Deghayes claims, was beaten until blood dripped on the cell floor and he was left “paralysed and mentally damaged”.
In Bagram he says he was chained in a cage “with hands stretched above [my] head …causing suffocation”.
In Bagram he says he went without food for 45 days and was subjected to water torture: “They hold me naked in the night, freezing cold, and throw buckets of water and fill the bucket and throw [it] again. I shiver and shake badly and try to sit down to gain warmth. They kick and punch and say stand up until I fall to the ground in weakness.”
While moving from Bagram to Guantánamo, he says he was so ill he suffered hallucinations that he was back in the UK and travelling on a train, after beatings and 45 days without food.
In Guantánamo Mr Deghayes says he was beaten on his first day. Special teams which tackle allegedly disruptive prisoners repeatedly beat him up, he claims.
Prisoners were also given mystery injections. He says an FBI interrogator called Craig said he would face execution, and that he would not get a proper trial.
He says: “Many times one FBI interrogator by the name of Craig said, ‘Omar, it is nothing like the law you studied in the UK. There will never be a proper court and lawyers etc, it would be only a military tribunal to determine your future and your life. Your best choice is to cooperate with me.”
He says he was subjected to taunts insulting his religion and during his first year in Guantánamo a Qur’an was thrown in a toilet, causing a riot among inmates. As a punishment his head and beard were shaved.
In Guantánamo, he says, “they would pretend to search and want to put their hands on people’s genitalia”.
His brother, Abubaker Deghayes, 39, said: “I cannot believe how the Americans can do this to him, and astonished how he could survive this.”
Mr Deghayes’s mother, Zohra Zewawi, said she feared for her son’s mental health if he ever is released.
“I worry that something has happened to his mind.
“He is being tortured. I read his diary. When he gets out I fear he will not be normal Omar. I’m sure he will have changed.”