Thursday, 22 May 2008

Report describes Habib interrogation

Mamdouh Habib … vomited.

AN FBI agent watched the Australian prisoner Mamdouh Habib repeatedly vomit during a marathon interrogation session at Guantanamo Bay in 2004, a US Justice Department report says.

The agent said Mr Habib, a former Sydney taxi driver held at the US military prison at Guantanamo for more than two years, endured two 15-hour interrogation sessions with only a short break in between.

The report said "Habib's condition did not bother" the agent at the time of the interrogation, "but in retrospect she questioned whether the treatment of Habib was appropriate".

Details about Mr Habib's confinement at Guantanamo, including an alleged assault inflicted by a private-contract interrogator with Lockheed Martin, were included in the report, which took the Department of Justice more than three years to compile.

More than 1000 FBI staff were surveyed to ascertain if FBI agents witnessed abuse of prisoners, reported abuse to superiors, or participated in abuse. Of the more than 450 FBI agents who served at Guantanamo, the report found almost half "observed or heard about various rough or aggressive treatment of detainees, primarily by military interrogators".

"The most frequently reported techniques included sleep deprivation or disruption, prolonged shackling, stress positions, isolation and the use of bright lights and loud music," the report said. Other allegations include the use of a snake, dogs pornography and sexual touching.

The investigation "in general" did not find "FBI agents participated in abuse of detainees in connection with interrogations in the military zones".

The other Australian held at Guantanamo, David Hicks, was not mentioned in the report.


UN Torture Committee Blasts Australia
The Committee against Torture expressed concern about Australia's counter-terrorism laws. The Committee was also concerned that Australians knew about what was happening in Abu Ghraib, but did not act to stop the mistreatment. In a thinly disguised reference to the cases of Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks, the Committee expressed concern that Australia has failed to investigate claims of torture.

Habib mistreated but not in Aussie embassy
There was little doubt that Mamdouh Habib was badly mistreated after he was detained by Pakistani and US authorities in the wake of the September 11 attacks and no doubt whatsoever that he was taken to Egypt against his will, a Federal Court judge has found.

Hicks media gag order ends
As part of the deal, he was also banned from speaking to the media after his release in December 2007.

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