|Amnesty International says Guantanamo Bay is a
An Aljazeera cameraman who has been incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay since 2001
has suffered extreme physical, sexual and religious abuse, his lawyer has said.
Clive Stafford-Smith, who visited clients in the US detention camp in Cuba a
few weeks ago, told Aljazeera.net that Sami al-Hajj had been beaten by his interrogators.
Al-Hajj, a Sudanese national, was arrested in late 2001 while working for Aljazeera
"Sami has endured horrendous abuse - sexual abuse and religious persecution,"
said Stafford-Smith, who is on a visit to Qatar, on Tuesday.
"He has been beaten. He had a huge scar on his face when I saw him."
The British lawyer said that al-Hajj witnessed the Quran being flushed down
the toilet by US soldiers in Afghanistan, and also witnessed expletives being
written on the Muslim holy book.
"He is completely innocent. He is about as much of a terrorist as my granddad.
The only reason he has been treated like he has is because he is an Aljazeera
journalist. The Americans have tried to make him an informant with the goal
of getting him to say that Aljazeera is linked to al-Qaida.
"The problem is that nobody is putting pressure on the Americans to release
him. One word from the government of Sudan or Qatar would suffice."
Stafford-Smith also said that inmates who were children when they were arrested
have been held in Guantanamo Bay since 2001.
Despite the US government's denials, he said they are being held in pitiful
Moreover, he predicted that the detention centre will soon be closed down.
|George Bush says Guantanamo inmates are treated humanely
Public relations disaster
"Guantanamo is a PR disaster. It is one of the most iconic symbols of
hypocrisy in the world. It is just incredible how the US has squandered all
the goodwill it had after the September 11 attacks.
"What George Bush says about Guantanamo is absolute rubbish. He has never
been there himself and he should go there and take a visit to see what it is
The lawyer added: "But we must remember that Guantanamo is just a diversion.
It only holds a few hundred inmates while there are around 30 secret US detention
centres around the world which hold up to 12,000 inmates. Conditions are worse
there than in Guantanamo."
There are currently more than 500 Muslim men detained at Guantanamo Bay without
charge in conditions that have provoked worldwide concern.
Most were arrested in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the aftermath of the 2001
US-led war to topple Afghanistan's Taliban government.
War on terror
Several US politicians, including former President Bill Clinton, have called
for the camp to be either "cleaned up" or "closed down".
However, the Bush administration has consistently defended Guantanamo, arguing
that most of the people detained there are terrorists who pose a risk to American
In response to a question about the camp on Monday, US President George Bush
said its inmates are treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
He said the Red Cross has 24-hour access to the camp and journalists and activists
are welcome to visit it to see how it operates.