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Pakistani Terrorist Suspect Denies Any Connection to al-Qaida


A Pakistani terrorism suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has denied any connection to al-Qaida and says he was tortured while in prison. The comments from Majid Khan were contained in a transcript released Tuesday by the Pentagon of a hearing the detainee had at Guantanamo last month. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Washington.

According to the transcript, Majid Khan says members of the CIA and the Defense Department tortured him after his capture in Pakistan and during the period he has been held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay.

Khan presented what he called his torture report during a hearing by a tribunal of military officers who are reviewing his status as an enemy combatant.

Portions of the statement that referred to his treatment while in CIA custody at an undisclosed location overseas were censored, but Khan says he was treated with greater respect during his last 10 months in CIA detention than at Guantanamo.

In addition to his claim that he was physically tortured, Khan says he was also subject to mental torture while at Guantanamo. He says this ranged from pictures of his baby daughter being confiscated by guards, to noisy fans and a lack of entertainment.

Khan says the conditions drove him to try to commit suicide.

The CIA and the Pentagon say their interrogation practices are legal and do not include torture.

Though large portions of Khan's statement were censored, his father, who lives in the eastern U.S. state of Maryland, gave a written statement to the tribunal about his son's treatment. Ali Khan says his son was kidnapped in Pakistan where he was beaten repeatedly in a mosquito-infested cell. He says while being held in Pakistan, Americans tortured his son for eight hours at a time.

Ali Khan also charged that he and other members of his family were followed by the FBI and pressured to speculate about his son's activities.

During the hearing, the government said Khan told others he wanted to martyr himself in a plot to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. They quoted one of his brothers as saying Khan was involved with a group believed to be al-Qaida and participated in transporting people across the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

An unclassified summary of evidence presented against him alleged that while Khan was in Pakistan, he tried to obtain a travel document that would have allowed him to reenter the United States to commit a terrorist act.

Khan is among 14 detainees sent to Guantanamo last year from secret U.S. prisons overseas. Like all of the detainees, he was given a hearing to officially determine whether he is an enemy combatant. The 14 men are considered high value detainees and could be charged, tried and sentenced by the military under procedures approved last year by the U.S. Congress.

A 15th detainee, who was added to the group last month, is from Iraq and is described as a senior al-Qaida leader.