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Prostitute used in Habib torture: lawyer

Sydney Morning Herald
January 27, 2005


Mamdouh Habib was the victim of atrocities fit for a concentration camp, including being tied to the ground while a prostitute menstruated on him, his lawyer said yesterday.

Interrogators at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay had also told the Sydney man they had killed his family and superimposed animal heads on photos of his wife and children, Steven Hopper said.

At an Australia Day forum in Sydney, Mr Hopper gave more details of atrocities allegedly endured by his client while held at the US base in Cuba.

The Federal Government said it was aware of similar allegations of torture made by former British detainees at Guantanamo Bay but it was the first time the Government had heard the claims involving Mr Habib.

Mr Habib is due back in Sydney within a fortnight after the US said it would release him without charge despite holding him for more than three years on suspicion he knew about the September 11 attacks and had trained with al-Qaeda.

Mr Hopper said yesterday: "The Americans used prostitutes as tools in their interrogations. They'd say to detainees 'If you co-operate with us, we'll let you at this woman for the night'. And if they wouldn't agree they'd use them in other ways."

He said detainees held at the base with Mr Habib reported that a prostitute was told to stand over him and menstruate on him.

"[We believe] one of the prostitutes stood over him naked while he was strapped to the floor and menstruated on him," he said.

Mr Hopper said officials at the base also defaced photos of Mr Habib's wife, Maha, and their four children.

"The Americans in their wisdom have taken the heads off the pictures, enlarged them and superimposed them with the heads of animals and then strung them up all over the walls of the interrogation room," he said.

"As they sat there talking to Mamdouh asking him about his terrorist activities, they held up a picture of Maha and said, 'It's a shame we had to kill your family, it's a shame you will never see these people again'."

He said Mr Habib was also subjected to the same interrogation techniques used on prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"Make no doubt about it, Guantanamo Bay wasn't a prisoner-of-war camp," Mr Hopper said. "It was a facility designed to interrogate people. It was nothing more than a vulgar concentration camp and it has marked a new high in the rise of American fascism."

Mr Habib was detained in Pakistan in late 2001 and sent to Egypt before being flown to Guantanamo Bay in 2002.

Mr Hopper also detailed abuses against Mr Habib while in Egypt, saying he was suspended from the ceiling with only an electrified barrel to stand on.

"He would stand and get a shock or hang painfully by his arms until he'd collapse," he said.

He was blindfolded and locked in rooms that were flooded with water and charged with electricity, Mr Hopper said.

"On other occasions they used German shepherd guard dogs and [interrogators] told him they train dogs to sexually assault people," the lawyer said.

"Mamdouh has said he wasn't sexually assaulted by these dogs but really we don't know.

"Who would admit to it, particularly an Arab Muslim male?"

The forum Mr Hopper spoke at focused on Australia's political relationship with the US.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, said last night that it was the first time the Government had heard the claims involving Mr Habib.

"We haven't heard those sorts of allegations from Mr Habib but we're aware that allegations of that nature were made by other detainees released last year," Mr Ruddock's spokesman said.

"But if he's got any evidence to support those sorts of claims we'd pass them on."

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