An inmate (photo, from aljazeera.net) at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay sent a letter to Al Jazeera saying he had been abused since the election of Barack Obama.
These new claims of mistreatment came from Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni national, held since 2001. In a letter to his lawyer dated April, he wrote that “oppression has increased, torture has increased and insults have increased”.
“I have seen death so many times”, he wrote. “Everything is over, life is going to hell in my situation. America, what has happened to you?”
David Remes, one of Abdul Latif’s lawyers, said he had seen evidence of abuse on his client during meetings at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba.“We have met with our clients, we know the men and the experiences are uniform and universal”, he said.
“I’ve seen the marks on these men, I’ve taken inventories that show the scars, that show the open wounds, that show the rashes.
“Adnan Latif … has a badly dislocated shoulder blade. I’ve seen the evidence of physical torture and I’ve also heard about the evidence of psychological torture.”
“Almost every day”
Two days before the letter emerged on Thursday, Mohammad al-Qurani (photo, from aljazeera.net), a Chadian inmate called Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera cameraman who spent more than six years in Guantanamo before being released last year. He told Mr al-Hajj that he had been mistreated since Barack Obama, the US president, was elected last November.
In his phone call, Mr al-Qurani told Al Jazeera that he had been beaten and tear-gassed by guards after Barack Obama, the US president, pledged to end abuse at the camp in January.
The Chadian prisoner said 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”.
On Thursday Robert Wood, a US state department spokesman, said he had not seen the allegations regarding Mr al-Qurani and added that he “did not want to get into specific cases”.
Yet, he did say that the state department would “certainly have been looking into a number of these issues”.
The call is believed to be the first made from a Guantanamo Bay inmate to a media organisation and Al Jazeera’s Monica Villamizar said authorities at Guantanamo Bay confirmed to her that Mr al-Qurani would be punished for making the call. However they did not say how.
“I can tell you that detainees are allowed weekly phone calls, detainees provide their family names and phone numbers”, said Navy Lieutenant-Commander Brook DeWalt, a Guantanamo spokesman.
“If a prisoner called someone not a relative, that would be in violation of policy.”
after saying there was no evidence to justify his detention, a US judge ordered Mr al-Qurani’s release last January. He was captured in Pakistan in 2001 and was only 15-years old.
He is currently in the Camp Iguana area of Guantanamo Bay. Prisoners go there after they have been approved for release, before being transferred.
Saying that the situation changea from camp to camp within the facility, Cory Crider, a member of al-Qurani’s legal team, said it was hard to ascertain how al-Qurani had been treated in recent months. He also said that there had been “ramping up” of secrecy under the new administration.
Yet, Ms Crider explained that the last time she saw Mr 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.
On Tuesday, the ambassador of Chad to the US said he would raise the claims of abuse of one of his country’s citizens with the US authorities.
“I will bring these allegations to my authorities and also will talk to my counterparts at the state department”, Mahmoud al-Bashir told Al Jazeera.
Before Mr al-Qurani, several Guantanmo inmates claimed that they had been subjected to mistreatment, in violation of international law.
When Mr Obama ordered the closure of the prison, he also ordered that prisoners held there be treated in line with the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the abuse of detainees.
“We thought the situation would be better in Guantanamo after Obama came to the White House and his order to stop torture there”, Khaled al-Anisi, a member of the International Committee for the Defence of Guantanamo Detainees, told Al Jazeera.
He added : “We have discovered the situation has become [worse] than before. People have been behaving badly towards the detainees, more than they did in the Bush administration.”