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Former Inmate Says Photos Show Abuse at Guantánamo

New York Times
by Raymond Bonner
July 7, 2009

A former inmate of the prison camp at Cuba, who was released to Britain this year, has asked a federal court in Washington to preserve “photographic evidence” that he says shows him being “savagely beaten” while a detainee.

In an affidavit filed in June with United States District Court, the former inmate said that video and still cameras had documented his abuse, and that he had seen some of the images, which he said were in the possession of his lawyers.

He said in the affidavit that in May 2006 a guard “slammed my forehead down on the concrete floor,” and another “grabbed my testicles and punched me.”

Later, another guard “slammed me and my Koran into the fence,” Mr. Mohamed said. He said soldiers had strapped him down and shaved half his beard, and “they then performed a humiliating ‘anal cavity search,’ although it was patently obvious that there was nothing to find.”

A Pentagon spokesman, Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Gordon of the Navy denied the allegations, saying, “In response to allegations made by Binyam Mohamed, repeated internal reviews showed no evidence of mistreatment while in U.S. custody.”

Mr. Mohamed has previously alleged abuse, mainly by the Central Intelligence Agency." in Morocco. The C.I.A. has declined to say whether he was ever held in Morocco and has denied that he, or anyone else in its custody, was ever tortured.

Mr. Mohamed said that his lawyers were prohibited by the rules governing counsel for Guantánamo detainees from talking about the photographs, but that he was not.

One of his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith, confirmed that he had a copy of at least one photo, and that he could not talk about it. He provided a copy of the affidavit by Mr. Mohamed, filed in connection to a pending legal action that began before his release.

Under the rules for lawyers representing Guantánamo detainees, Mr. Stafford Smith said, the government has ordered him to destroy the photographic evidence now that Mr. Mohamed has been freed. He added that it had made similar requests in other cases of released detainees.

Pakistani authorities picked up Mr. Mohamed, a British resident who was born in Ethiopia, in 2002 and turned him over to the Americans, who took him to Morocco, according to court documents in his case, and American and British officials. He eventually ended up at Guantánamo.

Shortly after his capture, Bush administration officials said he was part of a plot to explode a dirty bomb in the United States.

Before being released from Guantánamo in February Mr. Mohamed was offered a plea bargain which required him to agree to abandon his efforts to obtain documents that might bolster his torture claims and not to file lawsuits against the United States government or any of its officials.

He rejected the offer and a few months later all charges against him were dropped.

“I want these photos, as they are obviously the best evidence I could obtain to prove some of the worst aspects of my abuse,” Mr. Mohamed said in the affidavit. “It would help me show what happened, and how the statements extracted from me were the bitter fruit of torture.”

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