FBI confirms that US officials abused only Chadian prisoner in Guantánamo Bay, Mohammed El Gharani

September 1, 2008

New revelations, contained in a US Department of Justice report on US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, tell of the horrendous abuse suffered by Chadian prisoner Mohammed El Gharani. Mohammed was only 15 years old when he was imprisoned more than six and a half years ago. Mohammed has never been charged with a crime or had a trial.

According to the report, Mohammed was repeatedly “short-chained” his hands and feet shackled to a bolt in the floor so that Mohammed was forced to hunch over or crouch down. He was kept in this painful position for up to 16 hours at a time. Eventually he was forced to urinate on himself. The report states that: “The short chaining of [Mohammed] would have violated FBI policies against coercive interview techniques if the FBI agents had employed it in the United States.”

The US government report goes on to describe how Mohammed was subjected to extended sleep deprivation. Every few hours, for days on end, Mohammed was moved to a new cell, to prevent him from sleeping. Sleep deprivation of this kind is known to cause severe mental and physical problems, including hallucinations, delusions and other psychotic effects and ultimately brain damage. In 1997, the United Nations Committee Against Torture categorically ruled that extended sleep deprivation was torture.

“Only a child when he was put in prison, Mohammed El Gharani has come of age in a steel cage. He’s been a frequent victim of abuse, humiliation and isolation at the hands of the United States. Reprieve calls upon the Government of Chad to increase its efforts to secure Mohammed’s release. Now more than ever, President Deby must vigorously demand that this son of Chad be transferred home as soon as possible,” said Zachary Katznelson, Legal Director of the British charity Reprieve and Mohammed’s lawyer.

Mohammed also reported that another interrogator “took him to a room that was completely dark and placed him in a chair. When the lights were turned on, he could see that the walls were covered with pornography.” Mohammed “was introduced to a woman that spoke Arabic and wore a bikini. He was told that if he cooperated, she would sleep with him.” Another interrogator “told guards to hit [Mohammed], throw him down, and throw cold water on him” and “subjected him to loud music and [strobe] lights.”

“Mohammed’s suffering continues each day and Reprieve is gravely concerned for his physical and mental health. Mohammed still endures regular beatings and is confined in almost total isolation, with no sign of when, if ever, his ordeal will come to an end. May the Government of Chad soon succeed in ending his ordeal,” Zachary Katznelson, Mohammed’s lawyer stated.


Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’


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