Report on Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. (Nechle)
In July 2006, The New York Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) published its Report on Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. This report is based on accounts drawn directly from habeas counsels’ unclassified notes reflecting prisoner statements made to counsel during in-person interviews conducted at Guantánamo beginning in the Fall of 2004. Some information for that report was taken also from public sources compiled in Cecili Thompson Williams & Kristine A. Huskey, Detention, Interrogation, and Torture at Guantánamo Bay: Materials and Case Files, a report published by the law firm of Shearman and Sterling LLP in October 2005. The testimony by or about Mr. Mohammed Nechle in the CCR report can be found below.
(CCR62) On the night of January 18, 2002, Mr. Nechla and the other five Bosnians were taken to the courtyard of the Sarajevo jail. Mr. Nechla was given a document confirming that he was to be released. But he was not set free. Instead, he was turned over to nine officers/soldiers, including at least one American soldier, in full riot gear. A hood was placed over his head and his wrists were bound extremely tightly. The six were taken to an airport, where they were handed over to Americans. The Americans removed Mr. Nechla’s hood, and placed sensory deprivation goggles on his eyes, a surgical-type mask on his mouth, and headphone-type coverings over his ears. After spending hours sitting on the ground in sub-freezing temperatures, Mr. Nechla and the others were forced onto a plane. The pain from Mr. Nechla’s wrist restraints was excruciating because they were so tight; he was crying and screaming, “My hands, my hands!” He began to feel numbness in his hands and arms. He was placed in a sitting position on the floor of the plane. If he slumped or fell, he was slammed back into the sitting position by soldiers. The flight lasted about six hours. When the plane landed, they were in a place that was extremely cold (-20 C). Mr. Nechla believes it was Turkey or Germany. Mr. Nechla heard barking and snarling dogs very close to him, but he could not see because of the goggles. He was terrified that the dogs would bite him or kill him; the soldiers taunted him in the bitter cold. Before boarding a second plane, Mr. Nechla was given a new article of clothing, but he could not see what it looked like. His hands remained in pain, and the numbness in his arms grew. He was given no food. The plane trip lasted many hours. Immediately before the plane landed at Guantánamo, he was given an apple—the only food he received during his nearly two-day journey. After the plane landed, he was dragged to a bus, still wearing the goggles, mask, and headphones. The soldiers dragged him by his biceps, gripping him tightly and painfully. The bus had no seats. Soldiers were screaming at him in English, “Don’t move!” “Don’t talk!” repeatedly. When the bus stopped, Mr. Nechla was pulled down the boarding stairs, again by the upper arms. There were several dogs barking very close to him, and he again feared he would be bitten and attacked. He was dragged to an area of gravel and placed in a painful position, with his legs placed straight out in front of him, shackled, and his wrists still shackled. Soldiers were screaming insults at him and about his family. A soldier punched him around his head and shoulders. The sun pounded down on him and it was unbearably hot. He fainted. A soldier stepped forward, grabbed him, and shoved him back into the painful seated position. This occurred a few times. He was forced to sit in the intense heat for an extended period. He was having difficulty breathing through the mask and believed he was going to suffocate. He cried out for help. A soldier came and pulled the mask out and let it snap against his face. He began to cry. He had arrived at Guantánamo (Center for Constitutional Rights 2006, 4f).
(CCR63) During his first month at Guantánamo, soldiers would wake Mohamed Nechla every hour and force him to place his shoes, brush, and soap in a certain order along the side of his cage. An hour later, they would force him to line up the shoes, brush, and soap in a new order. This would continue all night and was designed to prevent him from sleeping. At times, instead of reordering the position of his shoes, brush, and soap, he was ordered to leave his cell while it was searched. Saber Lahmar reported similar conduct over a period of several weeks (Center for Constitutional Rights 2006, 18).
Melissa Hoffer (undated) Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mohammed Nechla (on file with author).