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US Military to Probe Guantanamo Abuse Allegations

The U.S. military command that is responsible for the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says it will investigate allegations of prisoner abuse at the base.

The U.S. military's Southern Command, headquartered in Miami, Florida, says Army General John Furlow will head the investigation, which will look at allegations of abuse contained in e-mails sent by FBI agents who were assigned to the base.

The e-mails, which were made public recently describe prisoners being shackled to the floor in a fetal position for as long as 24 hours, prisoners being left to urinate and defecate on themselves and other alleged instances of prisoners being subjected to loud music and bright lights. One FBI agent reported that a prisoner had torn out his hair after being left overnight in an overheated room.

Raul Duany, a spokesman for SOUTHCOM based in Miami, says the investigation will focus on gathering basic information.

"He [General Furlow] is going to be looking at all the facts surrounding these allegations,” he said. “That may include talking to people, interviews and looking at any documents. They are looking at facts and evidence that surrounds the allegations that are brought up by the FBI e-mails and memorandums."

Mr. Duany says that while the investigation will focus on allegations contained in the FBI e-mails it will not be limited to that correspondence. He says SOUTHCOM's commander has requested a report on the allegations by February 1.

The U.S. Defense Department has acknowledged about 10 cases of abuse at the base, but has strongly denied charges by some human rights groups of systematic abuse at the Guantanamo detention camps, which are located at the eastern edge of Cuba.

There are about 500 detainees at the base. Most were captured during the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan, which followed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.