Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Australian citizen Habib badly tortured, then released without charges being laid: "Habib was taken to the Guantanamo Bay prison in May 2002. Three Britons released from the prison -- Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul -- have said Habib was in "catastrophic shape" when he arrived. Most of his fingernails were missing, and while sleeping he regularly bled from his nose, mouth and ears but U.S. officials denied him treatment, they said."

"The petition says [Habib] was taken to an airfield where, during a struggle, he was beaten by several people who spoke American-accented English. The men cut off his clothes, one placed a foot on his neck "and posed while another took pictures," the document says. He was then flown to Egypt, it alleges, and spent six months in custody in a barren, 6-foot-by-8-foot cell, where he slept on the concrete floor with one blanket. During interrogations, Habib was "sometimes suspended from hooks on the wall" and repeatedly kicked, punched, beaten with a stick, rammed with an electric cattle prod and doused with cold water when he fell asleep, the petition says.

"He was suspended from hooks, with his is feet resting on the side of a large cylindrical drum attached to wires and a battery, the document says. "When Mr. Habib did not give the answers his interrogators wanted, they threw a switch and a jolt of electricity" went through the drum, it says. "The action of Mr. Habib 'dancing' on the drum forced it to rotate, and his feet constantly slipped, leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall . . . This ingenious cruelty lasted until Mr. Habib finally fainted." At other times, the petition alleges, he was placed in ankle-deep water that his interrogators told him "was wired to an electric current, and that unless Mr. Habib confessed, they would throw the switch and electrocute him." Habib says he gave false confessions to stop the abuse."

"Mr Habib's Australia-based lawyer, Stephen Hopper, says the new evidence implicates the Australian Government. Mr Hopper says the most serious allegation in the documents concerns the involvement of an Australian official in his client's alleged abuse before he was taken to Egypt.

""The Australian officials stood by while what we believe were CIA officials engaged in the type of abuses we've seen at Abu Graib, where Mamdouh Habib's clothes were cut off, he's handcuffed, held down with women around him," he said. "The photos were taken and he was mocked."

"Mr Hopper says his client's treatment has been disgraceful. "The types of abuse that Mamdouh Habib has suffered are medieval and they would horrify any person," he said. "It's beyond imagination what's happened to this man, yet our Government stands by and allows the Americans to do this, and they don't do anything about it.""

So after more than three years of detention without trial and medieval torture, Habib is now to be released without any charges being laid.

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