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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2524

Guantanamo: No Charges, No Trial, No Release, 14-year- Inhuman Torture

By Daya Gamage - Asian Tribune Media Commentary
Washington, D.C. 08 January (Asiantribune.com):

A lot of Guantanamo detainees were subjected to harsh interrogations, but what Mohamedou Slahi went through was extraordinary. In 2003, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally approved what was called a special interrogation plan for him. It used so-called enhanced methods. According to a U.S. Justice Department investigation, he was beaten, sexually throttled, put in extreme isolation, shackled to the floor, stripped naked and put under strobe lights while being blasted with heavy metal music.

This was revealed in a nationwide broadcast of National Public Radio (NPR) a couple of days ago about a fourteen-year detention of Mohamedou Slahi who was subjected to enhanced and severe form of interrogation - meaning inhuman torture - at the Guantanamo detention facility run by the United States with no charges, no trial and kept in detention despite a U.S. Defense Department investigation cleared him for release five years ago.

After years of legal wrangling, the memoir of 44-year-old Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) detainee, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, handwritten in 2005, was finally unclassified by the US Department of Defense in 2012 and published this year with more than 2,500 redactions. Guantánamo Diary is an extraordinary account of captivity, rendition and torture. It catalogues shocking verbal and physical abuse, determined attempts by Slahi’s interrogators to establish guilt without collaborating evidence, and using torture to coerce signed confessions from him.

The Torture Story: Best Seller

Slahi writes about how he and countless other prisoners survived rendition and torture, clearly pointing to a catalogue of human rights abuses sanctioned and practiced by the US authorities, whether at Guantánamo or in other countries that collaborated in the rendition program in Europe and the Middle East. An Open Society Justice Initiative report in 2013, Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition, states that 54 countries participated in CIA’s rendition program including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Ireland and Iceland, providing secret prisons, airport and air space for flights.

In a report carried in Asian Tribune February 2013 captioned 'Ranil Wickremesinghe (2003) tied Sri Lanka to US global torture network' outlined how Sri Lanka facilitated the United States in its prisoner rendition program in allowing US flights to use Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. India refused to undertake this assignment.

In his book Guantanamo Diary he describes beatings, sensory deprivation, starvation, being shackled for days in a freezing cell, being doused with ice water, mock executions, sexual assault, being kicked, and assault threats directed towards his mother. Slahi writes that it all stopped after he confessed to what he claims he was not guilty of.

The NPR revealed that five years ago, Slahi used the writ of habeas corpus to challenge his detention in (US) federal court, and he prevailed. A District Court judge ordered his release. But the Obama Justice Department appealed. A circuit court vacated the district judge's ruling and sent the case back to be retried. Slahi's attorney, Nancy Hollander, says even if he were to win again in the lower court, the government would likely appeal it again.

Ms. Hollander says "They have fought his habeas. They are not moving on this case at all and fight it tooth and nail.

At the same time, they say they want to close Guantanamo. And it's simply inconsistent. If they want to close Guantanamo, they should send Mohamedou home today".

One commentator said that the Obama administration has argued that to allow the US government the power to suppress its own misconduct (on the subject of torture) and defend the no-transparency argument is because it doesn’t want to show that terrorists have won.

In a press conference President Obama has gone on record saying "We have a review process for those who are eligible for transfer. We locate in countries that have accepted some of these detainees".

It has been revealed that the review process is carried out by senior security officials from six federal agencies, all of whom sit on what's called the Periodic Review Board, or PRB. It's a parole hearing-type panel ordered up by Obama nearly five years ago to determine whether Guantanamo captives still pose what's called a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States. But the PRB has moved very slowly. Only 21 detainees have had their cases reviewed. Of them, 15 were cleared for release. It has been stated that a PRB hearing the best bet for Slahi's lawyers. What has been seen as a problem is Slahi's never been told when he'll have a hearing with the PRB even though he was promised two years ago he'd get one. A federal judge rejected Nancy Hollander's plea for his court to order a hearing date. Hollander says she's not sure now what she's going to do.

A Mauritanian and former computer technician, who received a scholarship to study in Germany at 17, Mohamedou Slahi had joined al-Qaeda in the early 1990s. He had gone to Afghanistan as a student to join the fight against the communist government of Afghanistan had training at an al-Qaeda camp and had sworn loyalty to them. But, as he’s said repeatedly, he broke all ties; after the communist government collapsed and the various mujahideen factions started shooting each other, Mohamedou essentially said, "I’m out."

Mohamedou was at his mother’s house in November of 2001. And he gets a call from the police to come and be interviewed. Thereafter he disappeared. He realized he wasn’t going home when he got on an airplane, was stripped of his clothes. In August of 2002, he landed in Cuba, in Guantánamo. His family, of course, had no idea what had happened to him.

Hina Shamsi, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, says Slahi's detention is entirely unjustified. "He wasn't captured on a battlefield. He voluntarily turned himself over to authorities in his native country of Mauritania for questioning. He never fought against the United States. He was subjected to one of the most brutal torture regimes at Guantanamo".

After a seven-year legal battle, his book Guantanamo Diary was published this January and has become a surprise best-seller. Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s diary details his experience with rendition, torture and being imprisoned without charge.

As of January this year, 122 detainees remain at the Guantanamo prison facility with no charges, no trial and no hope of getting out.

- Asian Tribune -

Guantanamo: No Charges, No Trial, No Release, 14-year- Inhuman Torture
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