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Lawyers For UK Ex-Detaiene Seeks "Abuse Videos"
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04/08/2004

By Andrew Cawthorne

LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Lawyers for a former British detainee alleging torture at Guantanamo Bay urged Washington on Tuesday to hand over videos they say show U.S. captors assaulting Muslim prisoners.

"It is essential that the British government actually sees the videos and does not just rely on what the U.S. government tells them is in them," said lawyer Louise Christian, who is representing former inmate Tarek Dergoul.

"We know these videos exist because the commander of Guantanamo Bay has confirmed this," she added.

Rights campaigners fear tactics at Guantanamo Bay may have been similar to those notoriously used at the Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad where photos and videos emerged earlier this year of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.

The U.S. military denies abuse at Guantanamo.

Dergoul -- one of five Britons released from the prison for terrorism suspects in March -- said he was repeatedly attacked by a punishment squad known as the Extreme Reaction Force during his 22-month detention without charge.

"When the ERF were called, they were always accompanied by someone with a video camera," said the 26-year-old, who was first detained in Afghanistan.

Britain's Foreign Office said it has asked Washington to confirm whether footage exists from Guantanamo and, if so, to give them access. "We don't have an answer yet," a spokesman said.

Dergoul's lawyers released a statement on Tuesday detailing claims he first made soon after release.

PORNOGRAPHY AND PEPPER-SPRAY

Dergoul's allegations against guards include that they:

* Stripped and photographed him naked.

* Deliberately touched his private parts.

* Put a "three-piece chain" round his limbs and waist.

* Gave forcible injections and denied medical treatment.

* Left him with no blankets in freezing conditions.

* Threatened to send him to Morocco or Egypt for torture.

* Insulted the Koran, Allah and Muslim prayers.

* Showed pornographic images.

* Beat him and used pepper-spray or mace.

* Forcibly shaved him and deprived inmates of sleep

"They put me on the floor and jumped on me. I was knocked out and lost consciousness as a result of being beaten," said Dergoul in a typical part of his lengthy testimony.

His accounts echo those of two other former British inmates who wrote an open letter to President George W. Bush alleging the use of shackles, dogs and loud music to torture them.

"The picture which emerges ... is one of a systematic regime of abuses directed and ordered by the top command and aimed at forcing detainees to make false statements in interrogations," Christian said.

London notes that no such claims were made during eight visits to British detainees at the U.S. military base in Cuba.

"That said, obviously we take all accusations of abuse seriously," added the Foreign Office spokesman. "At our request, the Americans are examining the allegations in detail and intend to respond."

Britain is negotiating over the fate of four more Britons among some 600 inmates at Guantanamo suspected of fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan or supporting al Qaeda radicals.

SOURCE: Reuters