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US denies abuse claims

THE US yesterday denied allegations that a Bahraini detainee at Guantanamo Bay was sexually humiliated as part of a campaign of systematic abuse.

But lawyers for the three Bahrainis still detained at the notorious camp stand by allegations that Juma Al Dossary was beaten and humiliated, saying they were corroborated by US military personnel.

"Some media outlets in Bahrain have recently published several false allegations about the treatment of detainees at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, including allegations regarding Juma Al Dossary," said a statement released by the US Embassy in Bahrain yesterday.

"The US government takes all allegations of abuse seriously. When a credible allegation of improper conduct surfaces, it is reviewed, and when factually warranted, investigated.

"As a result of the investigation, administrative, disciplinary, or judicial action is taken as appropriate.

"We have no evidence that substantiates that Mr Al Dossary was the subject of any sexual humiliation."

Detainees at Guantanamo "are treated humanely and receive excellent medical care," said the statement.

"Many detainees arrived at Guantanamo with pre-existing physical and mental health problems," it said.

"Detention facilities at Guantanamo provide detainees access to mental health experts and take any threat of injury or suicide seriously."

It also denied that allegations that Mr Al Dossary is being held in solitary confinement or isolation.

"This is incorrect. Mr Al Dossary interacts with other detainees during daily recreation and religious periods and with US personnel. Furthermore, he can send and receive mail and be visited by his attorney," it said.

But lawyer Mark Sullivan, part of the New York team representing the Bahraini detainees, stood by the allegations last night.

"Many allegations made by Mr Al Dossary, specifically ones regarding his sexual humiliation, for example the allegation that a female interrogator smeared his face with what was allegedly menstrual blood, have been corroborated subsequent to the allegations by military personnel," he said.

"The incident where Mr Al Dossary alleges he was physically abused by an IRF team has been described in detail in (former intelligence officer) Erik Saar's book (Inside the Wire) and although he uses a pseudonym it is clear he is referring to Juma.

"There have also been FBI reports which corroborate incidents of that sort having occurred."

"As shocking as they may seem, Mr Al Dossary's allegations are corroborated in major respects by the military."

Mr Sullivan refuted the US claim that detainees are not kept in isolation.

"This is directly in contradiction to what Mr Al Dossary and others have reported about their confinement, where they have said they have had extremely limited contact with any other human being," he said.

Mr Sullivan could not comment on whether an isolation facility exists at Guantanamo Bay because detainees are brought to 'Camp Echo' to meet with lawyers.

Lawyers have never seen detainees living quarters.

Mr Sullivan said several detainees had complained about a lack of medical care.

"With respect to claims that there has been no torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the inhumane treatment of many detainees is well documented by military and FBI personnel who have been at the facility."

Mr Sullivan said he had no knowledge of any judicial action by US authorities following allegations of abuse.

He also said Mr Al Dossary's communications with the outside world were severely restricted.



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