Swede says he was tortured

July 14, 2004

Stockholm - A 25-year-old Swede released last week from the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba said in interviews on Tuesday that he was tortured both physically and psychologically during his detention.

In his first interviews to the Swedish media, Mehdi Ghezali said US interrogators subjected him to a string of abuses, including being shackled for hours, sleep deprivation, no contact with the outside world, being forced to endure shivering temperatures for up to 14 hours at a time, and attempts to humiliate him sexually.

"There was always psychological torture, but the last month they used more physical torture," Ghezali told Swedish radio.

His claims are in line with accounts from other Guantanamo detainees who have been released.

Since his return to Sweden on July 8, Ghezali has been hiding out at an undisclosed location after receiving threats from neo-Nazis. Media reports have indicated that he is being guarded by Swedish secret police, but they have not confirmed those reports.

Swedish radio's correspondent described Ghezali as withdrawn, solemn and tired.

A devout Muslim, Ghezali insisted he was not involved in terrorist activities. "I don't think they would have released me if I were," he told the radio.

He said he was arrested in December 2001 in Pakistan and turned over to US authorities, who shipped him to Guantanamo in January 2002. He claimed he was visiting a friend in Pakistan when local villagers captured him and sold him to Pakistani police, who then handed him over to the US.

Ghezali denied media reports which, at the time of his arrest, said he was part of a prison revolt in Pakistan. Guards and prisoners travelling on a bus were reported to have been killed in the uprising.

"I've never been involved in anything like that, or any other battle," he told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, adding: "The stuff that supposedly happened on a bus was never even brought up in a single interrogation."

Ghezali said he was interrogated daily by US guards, but stopped answering their questions after the first six months. He said he remained silent for the next two years.

One time, the guards brought an American woman into his cell to try to get him to have sex with her.

"They tried to make me lose my faith. Maybe they wanted to use it against me so I would cooperate," he said.

The only physical traces Ghezali has from his detention are teeth in poor condition and the loss of feeling in part of his left foot because of an ankle chain.

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