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ICRC Accuses US Military of Abuse at Guantanamo Prison


The International Committee of the Red Cross has accused the U.S. military of using interrogation methods that amount to torture at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

A New York Times report Tuesday quotes Red Cross inspectors who visited the prison in June. The inspectors allege that military personnel use humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes and other methods to break the will of prisoners.

The Times says these findings were presented last July to the White House, Pentagon, State Department and to the commander of the Guantanamo prison.

A White House spokesman said today he "strongly disagrees" with the torture characterizations.

And the Pentagon maintains the United States operates a safe, humane, and professional detention operation at Guantanamo.

The 550 or so prisoners at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo are being held as "enemy combatants," a designation leaving them without protections provided by the Geneva Conventions.

Last month, four British Muslims who were held by the U.S. military as enemy combatants in the war on terrorism are suing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. top military commanders for alleged abuses including what they say was torture.

VOA's Pentagon correspondent Nick Simeone reported that the former detainees alleged they were stripped naked, beaten and subjected to abusive treatment before their release from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in March without charge.

Their attorney, Eric Lewis, is seeking $10 million in damages for each of the four who spent two and a half years in detention.

"It is a nightmarish tale of forced nakedness, beatings, repeated harassment in the exercise of their religious beliefs," he said. "They were intimidated by unmuzzled dogs, they were interrogated with guns to foreheads and it went on and on without charge."

Among those named as defendants are Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers. The plaintiffs say the case marks the first time that specific U.S. government officials have been named as defendants in a lawsuit brought by former Guantanamo detainees.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

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