WASHINGTON - August 3 -
"I couldn't bear it any longer... even if I were an animal I wouldn't put
up with it." -- Salah Nasser Salim 'Ali speaking about his secret detention by U.S.
Two men now in a Yemeni prison told Amnesty International (AI) that they were held in secret U.S. detention in solitary confinement for more than a year and a half. They saw no daylight during their detention, were mostly shackled and in handcuffs and had no chance to communicate with their families, lawyers or humanitarian organizations. Neither man knew why he was being detained or what country he was in.
In May 2005 the men were finally transferred to Yemen, only to be imprisoned there by the Yemeni authorities, who admit they have no legal reasons to hold the men, but told AI the men were in continued detention at the request of U.S. authorities.
"I was told of a journey in which these men were stripped of their dignity?at times beaten, spat on, deprived of sleep and threatened with sexual abuse and electric shocks," said Dr. William F. Schulz, Amnesty International USA Executive Director. "Their testimony will hopefully shed light on U.S. detention centers just as sinister, yet less well-known, than Guantanamo."
Salah Nasser Salim 'Ali and Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah, two Yemeni friends who were living in Indonesia, said that they were separately detained. Salah was detained in Indonesia in August 2003 and then flown to Jordan days later; and Muhammad was detained in Jordan in October 2003 while on a trip to visit his mother. Both men say they were tortured by the Jordanian intelligence services for four days and then flown to what they believe were underground jails in unknown locations. Once there, they were held in solitary confinement without charge for more than 18 months, interrogated daily by U.S. guards.
Both men described their first secret detentions as being in an old-style underground facility with high walls and said it took 3.5 to 4.5 hours to fly there from Jordan. After six to eight months they were transferred to a modern purpose-built prison run by U.S. officials, a three-hour plane journey away. Again, they had no idea where it was. Both men thought the facility was underground because they had to travel down stairs to enter and up to leave; neither one knew the other was detained. In both places, Western music was piped into the cells 24 hours a day.
"We fear that what we have heard from these two men is just one small part of the much broader picture of U.S. secret detentions around the world," said Sharon Critoph, North America researcher at Amnesty International, who interviewed the men in prison in Yemen. "The U.S. authorities must disclose the identities of all people who are being held in secret, where they're being held, and open these places up to international scrutiny."
The men's account of the modern prison suggests the use of psychological techniques to obtain information. Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah described the guards and interrogators as being fully covered "like Ninjas."
"It is the final injustice that both Muhammad and Salah find themselves imprisoned yet again, this time by the Yemeni authorities?who themselves admit they have no reason for holding them except that their transfer from U.S. detention was conditional on doing so," Critoph said. "The Yemeni authorities should release these men from detention immediately if they are not to be charged with a recognizable criminal offence and given a fair trial. The Jordanian authorities should investigate the allegations of torture against Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah and Salah Nasser Salim 'Ali and ensure anyone responsible is brought to justice."
USA/Jordan/ Yemen: Torture and Secret Detention: Testimony of the 'disappeared' in the 'war on terror'.
t peace and disarmament
organization with over 100,000 members nationwide and nearly 100
chapters in thirty states.