US unlawfully detaining prisoners in Guantanamo: Lawyer

US unlawfully detaining prisoners in Guantanamo: Lawyer

Prisoners denied right to fair trial; faced sexual, physical and psychological abuse, says Anas Mustapha

By Omer Faruk Madanoglu

ISTANBUL (AA) – Prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are detained unlawfully by the US government which denies them the right to fair trial, and fails to protect them from sexual, physical and psychological abuse, a lawyer said.

Lawyer Anas Mustapha, who is in charge of the Guantanamo project of CAGE, a London-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that defends Muslim rights, told Anadolu that the US continues to detain hundreds of people who were arrested after 9/11.

Those people are being held in the notorious facility in Cuba without any official charges, he said.

CAGE is giving legal aid to the detainees and is “fighting a legal battle to free the last 30 prisoners remaining in Guantanamo,” Mustapha said.

After they are released, CAGE helps the former prisoners find jobs, he said.

“One of the directors of CAGE’s Guantanamo Project, Hamad Al-Abadi, is a former prisoner who spent 14 years in those cells,” he said, adding that he is constantly being monitored by the US authorities.

- Escaping legal action

The US chose a place outside its territory to torture inmates in order to escape legal sanctions and get rid of future lawsuits against the country, he said.

“The US is illegally detaining those in Guantanamo prison without charges or trial,” he said.

“Prisoners are subjected to all kinds of torture, from sexual abuse to physical and psychological violence,” he added.

“In order to avoid taking responsibility for the severe torture committed by the US, prisoners were transferred to prisons established in countries such as Latvia, Poland, Morocco and Egypt.

“Although most of the report prepared by the US Senate has been removed, it is possible to see the blood-curdling details of the torture carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at Guantanamo,” he claimed.

- US not accepting its own actions

Mustapha said several human rights organizations, including the CAGE, are preparing to sue the US.

Citing a UN report which asked the US to shut down the facility, he said: “The US does not accept this report and claims. The country does not want to face the truth."

The country acts as if all the torture carried out at Guantanamo was carried out on the initiative of officers in the facility, he underlined.

Reiterating that the US administration closes its eyes to all the international pressure for it to close the facility, Mustapha stated: “There is a section of the government that is trying to ensure that Guantanamo is not closed.”

“The US is far from accountability. The US does not even agree to pay compensation to former Guantanamo prisoners, even secretly monitors their release to drop the cases filed against them,” he said.

Some former prisoners have also sued the UK for committing crimes at Guantanamo although the US rejected the evidence in those files, he said.

“Through their individual efforts, the prisoners filed indirect lawsuits against the US either in international courts or through courts in Europe,” he said, adding: “There are lawsuits filed against Latvia and Poland, which the CIA uses as torture points.”

The US is also mentioned in these cases, he stressed. “A large number of litigation processes are ongoing, some of which we are following and some of which we are supporting as lawyers.”

“We will do everything we can to close Guantanamo, which the US is illegally keeping open.”

- World’s worst prison

The prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was established due to the US “global war on terror” policy initiated after the 2001 attacks.

Under the guise of the war on terror, American intelligence agencies apprehended individuals, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, alleging ties to terrorism. To prevent detainees from benefiting from US judicial rights, the administration of then-US President George W. Bush created interrogation cells and prisons beyond the jurisdiction of the American legal system.

The Bush administration established Guantanamo prison on Jan. 11, 2002 near Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The prison became known for torture, wrongful detentions and extrajudicial killings and later evolved to house all terrorism suspects.

The public has sparingly shared images of everyday life at Guantanamo. The status of suspects dressed in orange attire and black hoods became central to discussions surrounding Guantanamo.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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