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Guantanamo prisoners were experimented on

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Prisoners were experimented on

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD—Special for Granma International—

AFTER Australian David Hicks’ horrific revelations concerning the torture he suffered in the Guantánamo concentration camp, including mysterious injections with substances of unknown origin, the lawyer for two of the French detainees: Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali, released in July, recently announced in Paris that his clients suspect that they were also the victims of experiments in one of the most sinister interrogation centers at the US military base.

In the latest edition of the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, lawyer Jacques Debray reported that Sassi and Benchellali, who were also forced to take suspect medication, are now wondering if they were victims of experiments carried out by their torturers.

To date, his clients have only agreed to recount a few details of what happened to them in Guantánamo, says Debray; “the French Intelligence Agency DST has explained to them that that would be better while other French nationals are still detained there,” said the lawyer.

“But they have described similar scenes to those in Abu Ghraib,” he affirmed, specifying that the two former detainees, arrested in Pakistan and in US custody after the invasion of Afghanistan, didn’t even know that there was a war in Iraq until after their release.

“In Guantánamo, they were received by U.S. soldiers who urinated on them when they were taken off the plane. At no point did they know why they were there,” he related.

“They were interrogated at least 100 times, and before their interrogations, they would be taken past certain rooms from where they could hear screams. Nizar also told me that they were chained up in a room equipped with one-way mirrors where it was extremely cold.

They also recounted that there were chambers where they would have to listen to extremely violent music.

The two former Guantánamo detainees also spoke of “strange” medications that they were forced to take. “Once, after having received one of those medications, Nizar fainted and thinks that he was drugged without his knowledge for one or two days. They also received injections. They do not know what medication they were given but the two affirmed that one of the other detainees was covered in a rash after having received these medications.”

“They are wondering if they were experimented on, “ the Parisian lawyer affirmed.

“The medication bottles bore numbers and a doctor visited them to ask them if the medicines had had any effect. Other than those questionings, they were unable to see a doctor, except on one or two occasions, because in Guantánamo, everything functioned on a reward system; Nizar had to wait one year before seeing a dentist.

Nizar and Benchellali affirmed that there were an “impressive number of psychiatrists” in Guantánamo and units reserved “for those who went crazy.”

Medical experiments on prisoners are strictly prohibited by the UN convention against torture and other treaties concerning cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment.

David Hicks, one of the few detainees to have been formally charged and who was provided with lawyers given his status as an Australian citizen, recently disclosed in a sworn affidavit, made public in his country, that he was forcibly injected with drugs.

In an affidavit provided by his defense attorneys in Australia, Hicks details the torture he suffered at the hands of his U.S. interrogators, explaining how they banged his head on the asphalt, with his eyes blindfolded, during interrogations that lasted for hours.

Meanwhile, they also deprived him of food and made him run in shackles that tore the skin off his ankles.

Captured while fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan, 29-year-old Hicks was moved to Guantánamo in January 2002.

”I have been struck with hands, fists, and a rifle butt,” he affirmed in the statement, also taken up by the Australian press.

“I was beaten while under the influence of sedatives that were forcibly administered via injections,” he stated.

He said that appearances by members of the Internal Reaction Force (IRF), a military squad utilized to terrorize “uncooperative” detainees with its dogs - were so common that it was said that the attacked detainees had been “IRF’ed.”

He confirmed that on one occasion he did not see daylight for eight months.

A military court is to try Hicks in March, it was added.

The affidavit confirmed that numerous doctors collaborated on inflicting the torture.

The system created by the Pentagon and the CIA in Guantánamo cannot be considered anything other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture,” observed the Red Cross in its report sent to Washington, according to The New York Times.

The Red Cross confirmed that doctors and nurses advised the interrogators of prisoners’ physical vulnerabilities, something that the report describes as a flagrant violation of medical ethics.

According to the Times, the torture experts at Guantánamo are able to seek advice from a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, also known as “Biscuit.”

As far back as last August, the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet disclosed that doctors and other health professionals were complicit actors in the torture that took place in Abu Ghraib as well as in Afghanistan and that they were collaborating on the design and practice of psychological and physically coercive interrogation.

The Guantánamo concentration camp, established on the illegally occupied territory of the same name, is under the command of US General Jay W. Hood.

The Red Cross International Committee presented the confidential report to the U.S. government in July following an inspection visit by a delegation to Guantánamo the previous month. Copies of the report were distributed in the White House, the Pentagon and in the State Department. Without any result.

The revelations contained in the affidavit by Australian national Hicks and the suspicions raised by lawyer Jacques Debray occurred shortly after the publication of a report by the Red Cross that denounced the doctors who acted as advisors to the torturers at the U.S. military base.


In emails recently received by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the FBI has involuntarily confirmed the horror lurking behind the bars of the cells installed there by the administration at the illegal US military base in Guantánamo.

“I have seen a detainee seated on the floor of an interrogation room, wrapped in an Israeli flag, with loud music and flashes from an stroboscope,” an agent told his superiors in a email dated last July 30.

The FBI erased the names of its agents and the dates of the described incidents in the emails obtained by the ACLU. FBI agents have participated in 747 detainee interrogations in Guantánamo, according to its own reports.

“On some occasions, I entered interrogation rooms and found a detainee tied down in a fetal position on the floor, without a chair, food or water. In most cases they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and they were left like that for 18 to 24 hours or more,” said the other agent.

A FBI representative related that he had visited an “almost unconscious” prisoner in a room where the temperature was certainly well above 38 degrees and there was a quantity of hair on the floor.”

The detainee “had apparently torn out his hair during the night,” he explained.

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