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Letter from Simon Manley to Clint Williamson, January 24, 2008

FROM: Simon Manley (Director of Defence and Strategic Threats, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

TO: Clint Williamson (Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, US Department of State)

DATE: January 24, 2008

As joint signatories to the Transfer Agreement, I would like to thank you for your cooperation in facilitating the arrangements for the transfer of Jamil El-Banna, Omar Deghayes, and Abdennour Sameur from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to the United Kingdom. The transfer was handled professionally and smoothly and we are grateful to you and your colleagues at State and Defence for working so closely with us on this. As you will already be aware from our Washington Embassy, on the flight back from Guantanamo, Mr. Deghayes and Mr. Sameur made allegations of mistreatment while in US custody. I enclose a note detailing this. As you will see, the allegations were put to UK officials in some detail and the issues raised are serious and include the allegation that Mr. Deghayes lost the sight in his right eye as a result of his treatment by US personnel during questionings. We are of course not in a position to assess the veracity of these allegations. However, my Ministers and I are of the view that they should be examined thoroughly. I would therefore be grateful if you would draw these allegations to the attention of your colleagues, including in the Department of Defence, and ensure that they take the necessary actions. I would be grateful if you would inform me of the outcome of your examination in due course. I am copying this letter to Sandy Hodgkinson and John Bellinger and to Kirsten Schulz in your Embassy in London and Neil Crompton in our Embassy in Washington.

Simon Manley
Director, Defence and Strategic Threats Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A2A.

 

Omar Deghayes made the following allegations: He said that he had lost the sight in his right eye further to mistreatment approximately 2-3 years ago at the detention facility. He alleged that he had been poked in both eyes by guards at the detention facility whilst handcuffed and shackled and whilst being questioned. He indicated that this had happened repeatedly over a period of around two weeks and said that one eye had recovered but the other had not. He said that he had had surgery in mid-childhood but had sight in both eyes prior to this incident. It was noted that the appearance of his right eye was markedly different than in the photographs of him prior to detention. He alleged that he was initially denied medical treatment although this was provided subsequently but he did not recover the sight in his right eye. He alleged that a number of other detainees had received this treatment and that some others had suffered damaged (sic) to their sight. He claimed that his finger was broken (open fracture) during an altercation with a camp guard. He said that it was not treated straight away but that he subsequently received very good medical treatment. He said that on numerous occasions during his time at Guantanamo he was subjected to forms of "sexual assault." He did no go into detail but indicated that this involved deliberate contact by the guards with his genitals during physical searches including whilst naked.

Abdenour Sameur made the following allegations: He said that following his capture by US forces his leg wounds were not properly treated. He said that he was moved over a three month period from Bagram to Kandahar and then to Guantanamo. It was only after his arrival at the latter that his injuries were properly treated and started to heal. He said that on a number of occasions during this period he was restrained on a stretcher (usually tied down) with guards applying pressure to his leg wounds. He said that he was subjected to forced anal searches by guards whilst this was happening and that this was recorded on video. He alleged that this happened immediately after his capture and initial detention at Bagram, again when he was transferred to Kandahar. He also alleged that this had happened again whilst he was at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility soon after he had been released from the medical centre.

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