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Sudanese detainee at Guantánamo wants psychologist appointed

Miami Herald
by Lesley Clark,
June 30, 2010

A Sudanese man who says he has been subject to ``numerous interrogations'' since he arrived here in 2002 will ask a judge Wednesday to appoint a clinical psychologist with experience in post traumatic stress disorders to help him prepare for trial.

Attorneys for Noor Uthman Mohammed -- whom prosecutors say ran a terrorist training camp in eastern Afghanistan -- argue that ``numerous interrogations and various methods of interrogation'' have had ``a wide range of physical, psychological, emotional, and cognitive consequences.

``The defense must be allowed to determine the mental impact of interrogations and methods in order to make arguments regarding the admissibility of statements,'' said lawyers for Noor, one of five Guantanamo prisoners whose trials before a military commission were authorized in November by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Prosecutors, however, said that Noor has said he was not ``tortured or mistreated'' while in U.S. custody and quoted him as saying he was ``surprised that Americans have been so kind to him and treated him so well.''

They argue that if there is a question about Noor's ``mental capacity or responsibility'' that the remedy should be an inquiry into his mental state, not an independent expert.

The defense is asking for the appointment of Jess Ghannam, a clinical professor of psychiatry and global health sciences at the University of California in Berkeley, who has given talks there about ``the mental health effects of torture in Guantanamo.''

The defense notes the prosecution suggested an alternative, a psychologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The court Wednesday is also expected to take up whether an Army reserve officer, Maj. Amy Fitzgibbons, will be permitted to continue to defend Noor.

Fitzgibbons, Noor's first Pentagon-appointed defense lawyer, is now based in Washington state and has asked to continue representing Noor. Her Army colonel supervisor had rejected her request.

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