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Institutionalised Abuse? I think so...



Letter 'shows Guantanamo abuse'

Moazzam Begg's family has campaigned for his release
The first uncensored letter from a British man being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba shows he has been abused, his lawyers have claimed.
Moazzam Begg, 36, from Birmingham, has been detained at the US military base without trial for two-and-a-half years.

His letter, seen by the BBC's Today programme, said he had been tortured, threatened with death and kept in solitary confinement since early 2003.

The US has previously denied claims of bad treatment at the camp.

Mr Begg is one of four Britons being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Also detained are Feroz Abbasi, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar, who are all from London.

'Under duress'

Lawyers said Mr Begg's letter, dated 12 July 2004, was an "oddity" and may have been unclassified and uncensored by the US by mistake, said the BBC's Zubeida Malik.

Speaking on Today she said previous communications had been heavily censored, according to Mr Begg's lawyers and family.

In the letter Mr Begg demands his rights under US and international law, saying he should be released immediately.

"It's a very articulate and stark letter in neat handwriting," she said.

Why is all news pertaining to my situation barred from me?

Moazzam Begg

Plea from Guantanamo - extracts

She said the Birmingham man called for all charges against him to be presented "unambiguously".

Mr Begg asks in the letter for "logical and reasonable" answers for the "violations and abuses" he has suffered:

"Why was I physically abused and degradingly stripped by force, then paraded in front of several cameras toted by US personnel?"

"The reason for being held in Bagram detention facility (in Afghanistan) for a year and consequently being denied natural light and fresh food for the duration."

"The exact purpose of my incarceration in solitary confinement since 8 February 2003."

"Why all news pertaining to my situation is barred from me?"
Any statements he had signed were done so "under duress", he added, insisting he was an innocent "law-abiding citizen of the UK" who had never had any connections with al-Qaeda or any associated group.

During interviews - mostly, but not solely, in Afghanistan - he claimed he had been subject to "pernicious threats of torture, actual vindictive torture and death threats".

He had also faced religious and racial abuse, he said.


He claimed he had heard other detainees being tortured, and believed this had led to the deaths of two men, which he said he "partially witnessed".

His lawyer Gareth Peirce said the letter reinforced what the legal team and family had believed was happening to Mr Begg.

"It rather answers the further curiosity as to why he is the only one in Guantanamo who has not been seen by anyone else. It suggests he has been a witness to at least one murder," she told Today.

Copies of the letter have been sent to Tony Blair, Home Secretary David Blunkett and the Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith, said Mr Begg's legal team.

The Foreign Office said the welfare of British detainees at Guantanamo has been a priority for the government "from the outset" and that it continued to pursue complaints raised with the US authorities.

It said during welfare visits to the military base, Mr Begg had not alleged systematic abuse there, but had claimed mistreatment at Begram, which was being investigated by the US.

Mr Begg was arrested in Pakistan before being moved to Cuba.

Five other Britons who spent up to two years at Guantanamo Bay were handed over to British custody in March and were freed without charge.

They also made allegations of abuse while they were detained.

Britons allege Guantanamo abuse

Asef Iqbal, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul allege humiliating and abusive treatment
Three British men held by the US in Guantanamo Bay for more than two years have compiled a report alleging abuse and humiliation while in captivity.
The document, to be released in New York on Wednesday, was being passed on to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The accusations include beatings and one of the men, Ruhal Ahmed, claimed a US guard pointed a gun at his head, in front of a British interrogator.

The UK Ministry of Defence said it would investigate any such allegations.

There was never any suggestion on the part of the British interrogators that this treatment was wrong

Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo

Inmates refuse review
Asef Iqbal, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul - all from Tipton in the West Midlands - returned to Britain in March having spent more than two years without legal representation in American custody - first in Afghanistan, then at Guantanamo Bay.

They were then released without charge by British police.

Their experiences in captivity now form the basis of a 115-page report, Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

The allegations include:

they were repeatedly punched, kicked, slapped, forcibly injected with drugs, deprived of sleep, hooded, photographed naked and subjected to body cavity searches and sexual and religious humiliations

one American guard told the inmates: "The world does not know you're here - we would kill you and no-one would know"

Mr Iqbal said when he arrived at Guantanamo, one of the soldiers told him: "You killed my family in the towers and now it's time to get you back.

Mr Rasul said an MI5 officer had told him during an interrogation that he would be detained in Guantanamo for life

the men said they saw the beating of mentally ill inmates

another man was left brain damaged after a beating by soldiers as punishment for attempting suicide

the Britons said an inmate told them he was shown a video of hooded men - apparently inmates - being forced to sodomise one another

guards threw prisoners' Korans into toilets and tried to force them to give up their religion
The men allege that when a new camp commander, Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, took charge, new practices began, including the shaving of beards, playing loud music, shackling detainees in squatting positions and locking them naked in cells.

Mr Ahmed said Foreign Office officials "did not seem to care or even ask him about the conditions".

The report says: "It was very clear to all three that MI5 was content to benefit from the effect of the isolation, sleep deprivation and other forms of acutely painful and degrading treatment, including short shackling.

"There was never any suggestion on the part of the British interrogators that this treatment was wrong."

All the time I was kneeling with a guy standing on the backs of my legs and another holding a gun to my head

Ruhal Ahmed

Three complain of beatings
The Foreign Office said the United States had been asked to examine the allegations and would be responding to them fully.

But a spokesman said none of the Britons at Guantanamo had made it aware of any allegations of systematic abuse, either when they were detained in the camp or on their release.

A statement said: "Throughout we have sought to meet the twin objectives of pursuing the fight against international terrorism whilst safeguarding the interests of the British citizens detained aboard."

All three men said they had made either written or verbal complaints to British embassy officials while they were being held.

The trio said they had eventually wrongfully confessed to appearing in a video with al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden and Mohammed Atta, one of the 11 September hijackers.

There was not a single method that was not used to break their will

Lawyer Gareth Pierce
Mr Rasul was actually working in a Curry's electronics store in the West Midlands at the time the video was filmed, the report says.

In the report, it is understood Mr Ahmed says shortly after his capture in northern Afghanistan in 2001 he was questioned by a British interrogator, who identified himself as an SAS officer, while an American soldier held a gun to his head, threatening to shoot him.

The UK Ministry of Defence acknowledged that such behaviour is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and has promised to investigate any such allegation.

For its part, the Pentagon has dismissed the claims of abuse as a fabrication.

Lawyer Gareth Pierce told BBC News: "There was not a single method that was not used to break their will to make them confess to something they were not guilty of, and all three did."
Interesting how Blair can subdue matters of the heart to keep his relationship with bu$h.