Published on Saturday, December 28, 2002 by Agence France Presse
Iraqi Scientist Refused Interview at UN's "Guantanamo Bay" in Baghdad
An Iraqi scientist said he refused to be interviewed by UN weapons inspectors at their Baghdad headquarters, which he compared to "Guantanamo camp," where the US holds suspected terrorists in Cuba.
"Why I refused to meet in UNMOVIC, in Canal Hotel?" Kadhem Mojbil told a press conference in English.
"My feeling, my inside feeling is, I look at this place as the Guantanamo camp," he said. "I am not a prisoner, I am a free man, a free Iraqi man."
The interview finally took place on Friday at Iraq's best hotel, the Rashid.
The United States has detained at the Guantanamo Bay camp hundreds of men captured mainly in Afghanistan and believed to be either Taliban militants or members of the Al-Qaeda network of Islamic radical Osama bin Laden.
While the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) spoke to Mojbil on Friday, the scientist denied his work was in any way linked to the development of a banned nuclear weapons program.
However, UN spokesman Hiro Ueki said Mojbil had provided the inspectors with details of a military program. that could be linked to a clandestine nuclear program.
"This program. has attracted considerable attention as a possible prelude to a clandestine nuclear program. The answers will be of great use in completing the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) assessment," he said.
Ueki, who was to give a news briefing around 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) Saturday, did not say whether the program. to which he referred was an existing one or a previous one.
Mojbil said he had been involved in treating aluminum piping, which the United States and Britain claim can be used in the uranium enrichment process of a nuclear program. and would be illegal under UN resolutions.
But the Iraqi foreign ministry said the tubing is used for producing multiple launchers for 81-millimeter short-range (10 kilometer, or six mile) rockets and rejected a British claim they are being use for uranium enrichment.
In remarks to the press Saturday, Mojbil reiterated that he had no connection with a nuclear program. and had only been involved in "the cleaning of the tubes."
The expert who interviewed him was "convinced of my word when I told him I was a simple metallurgist."
He said the tubes could only be used for the launchers, when asked whether they were used for anything else.
Mojbil said he was "very annoyed" by Ueki's talk of a possible clandestine nuclear program. and that he had not slept for the past two nights.
When asked whether he were prepared to travel abroad to be questioned again, Mojbil said "my interview was in my country, with the presence of representatives of the NMD (National Monitoring Directorate), and you saw what happened.
"So what will be the situation when anybody, not myself, any other scientist, will be interviewed abroad?
"I think there will be a lot of misunderstandings, lots of provocations and lies. Those lies and fabrications could be used against those who would be questioned.
Copyright 2002 AFP