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Agence France Presse

Guantanamo Detainee Petitions Rights Panel Over Torture


WASHINGTON - A Guantanamo detainee on Wednesday urged a human rights panel that investigates abuse cases in the Americas to review his accusations that he was tortured in the US "war on terror" prison.0807 02 1

Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian who has been held at the US naval base in Cuba for six years as an "enemy combatant" without charge, became the first Guantanamo detainee to file a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The panel is an autonomous organ of the 35-nation Organization of American States (OAS), a multilateral forum of which the United States is a member.

Two groups that represent Guantanamo detainees -- the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) -- filed the petition on Ameziane's behalf.

"Guantanamo Bay has become a global symbol of impunity and inhumanity," CEJIL attorney Michael Camilleri said in a statement.

"Now an international body will have the opportunity to demand that the United States hold accountable those responsible for Mr. Ameziane's torture and abuse," he said.

Ameziane alleges that he was subjected to a form of waterboarding, with guards holding his head back and placing a water hose between his nose and mouth, running it for several minutes over his face and suffocating him.

In another instance, his entire body was sprayed with cayenne pepper and then hosed down with pepper to simulate the skin-burning effect of pepper spray, CCR and CEJIL said.

"Guards then cuffed and chained him and took him to an interrogation room, where he was left for several hours, writhing in pain, his clothes soaked while air conditioning blasted in the room, and his body burning from the pepper spray," they said.

The detainee also charges that he has been held in solitary confinement without a window for the past year.

Ameziane fled Algeria about 16 years ago to "escape persecution and seek a better life," CCR and CEJIL said. He lived in Austria and Canada, where he was denied political asylum.

He then traveled to Afghanistan, where he was captured by corrupt local police while trying to cross the border into Pakistan and sold to US military forces for a bounty, according to the two groups.

© 2008 Agence France Presse

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