by Jan Strupczewski
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A Swede released from the U.S. naval base at
Guantanamo Bay last week said he had been tortured by exposure to
freezing cold, noise and bright lights and chained during his 2
Mehdi Ghezali, the son of an Algerian-born immigrant who was arrested
in Pakistan where he says he was studying Islam, told Swedish media in
interviews published or aired on Wednesday that he was subjected to
interrogations almost every day.
The 25-year-old man was released on July 8 after pressure from Sweden
including a meeting in Washington between Prime Minister Goran Persson
and President Bush.
Ghezali told Dagens Nyheter daily and Swedish public radio that he had
answered all questions put to him for the first six months but gave up
talking when his interrogators kept asking the same questions.
After more than two years in the camp, in April this year the military stepped up the pressure on him.
“They put me in the interrogation room and used it as a refrigerator.
They set the temperature to minus degrees so it was terribly cold and
one had to freeze there for many hours — 12-14 hours one had to sit
there, chained,” he said, adding that he had partially lost the feeling
in one foot since then.
Ghezali said he was deprived of sleep for about two weeks by constant
switching of cells and interrogation, was exposed to powerful flashes
of light in a dark room, to very loud music and noise and was chained
for long periods in painful positions.
“They forced me down with chained feet. Then they took away the chains
from the hands, pulled the arms under the legs and chained them hard
again. I could not move,” he said.
After several hours his feet were swollen and his whole body was aching.
“The worst was in the back and the legs,” he said.
Some of these torture methods have also been used by the U.S. military
on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in a scandal which has
embarrassed the U.S. government this year.
Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds told public radio that if
correct, the allegations meant that the U.S. had broken international
laws. “That is wholly unacceptable,” Freivalds said.
She said that she hoped that the U.S. would investigate the allegations.
Ghezali said he went Pakistan to study Islam in August 2001, before the
September 11 attacks which triggered President Bush’s war on terrorism
and the invasion of Afghanistan.
He said he was visiting a friend in the Afghan town of Jalalabad near
the Pakistani border when the U.S. attack started and decided to return
to Pakistan when he heard that villagers were selling foreigners to the
But he was captured by Pakistani villagers while crossing the border
from Afghanistan and sold to Pakistani police, who turned him over to
the U.S. military. He was flown from Pakistan to Afghanistan and
arrived in Guantanamo in January 2002.
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