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Guantanamo: Habib 'vomited in Gitmo interrogation'


AN FBI agent watched Australian detainee Mamdouh Habib repeatedly vomit during a marathon interrogation session at Guantanamo Bay in 2004, according to a long-awaited US Justice Department report released today.

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 Habib's confinement at Guantanamo, including an alleged assault inflicted by a private-contract interrogator with Lockheed Martin, were included in the 370-page report that took the Department of Justice more than three years to compile.

More than 1000 FBI employees who served at Guantanamo and in Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were surveyed to ascertain if FBI agents saw detainee abuse, reported abuse to superiors, and if agents 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 abuse allegations include the use of a snake, dogs and pornography on detainees.

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

Australia's other Guantanamo detainee, Adelaide's David Hicks, was not mentioned in the report.

Hicks, following five years in custody, was released from Guantanamo last year after reaching a plea deal.

The US military decided not to charge Mr Habib and in January 2005 he was flown back to Australia on a private plane chartered by the Howard government.

He was arrested on October 5, 2001, while on a bus in Pakistan.

The US Justice Department report details how Mr Habib told an FBI agent he was tortured in Egypt before being transported to Guantanamo where he was assaulted.

“Habib alleged that `Mike' a private-contract interrogator with Lockheed Martin, had hit him during an interrogation,” the report said.

Mr Habib also claimed “detainees were beaten when guards searched their cells”.

The FBI agent told investigators how she observed Mr Habib vomiting during an interrogation at Guantanamo in April, 2004.

“She said she was certain that there was no plan or intention on the interrogators' part to make Habib sick or take advantage of his condition,” the report said.

“The agent said that she observed two interview sessions with Habib and that both lasted 15 hours with only a short break in between.”

Other allegations of detainee abuse contained in the report include:

SNAKES: One FBI employee reported a detainee told him that he found a snake in his cell and he suspected his “interrogators” had something to do with it. The employee indicated in his survey response that he also suspected an interrogator from another agency might have been responsible for placing the snake in the detainee's cell.

PORNOGRAPHY - Several FBI agents reported incidents involving the exposure of a detainee to pornography. One observed two military intelligence interrogators showing homosexual pornographic movies to a detainee.

MOCK BAPTISM - An FBI agent said “he heard” the military had someone dress up as a Catholic priest and pretend to baptise detainee Yussef Mohammed Mubarak Al-Shihri.

PLACING WOMEN'S CLOTHING ON DETAINEE: Four FBI agents at Guantanamo reported they heard about military personnel placing women's clothing on detainees, although none of them personally witnessed this conduct.

TOUCHING OR ACTING TOWARD A DETAINEE IN SEXUAL MANNER: More than 20 FBI agents reported they had seen or heard about female interrogators touching or acting towards a detainee in a sexual manner.

DOGS: Several FBI agents reported that military dogs were used at Guantanamo for purposes other than interrogations, including for the purpose of controlling or intimidating detainees when they arrived at the Cuban base.


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