Freed Swede Says He Was Tortured in Guantanamo
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Jul 14, 1:26 PM (ET)

By Jan Strupczewski

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swede released from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay last week said he had been tortured by exposure to freezing cold, noise and bright lights and chained during his 2 1/2-year imprisonment.

Mehdi Ghezali, the son of an Algerian-born immigrant who was arrested in Pakistan where he says he was studying Islam, told Swedish media in interviews published or aired on Wednesday that he was subjected to interrogations almost every day.

The 25-year-old man was released on July 8 after pressure from Sweden including a meeting in Washington between Prime Minister Goran Persson and President Bush.

Ghezali told Dagens Nyheter daily and Swedish public radio that he had answered all questions put to him for the first six months but gave up talking when his interrogators kept asking the same questions.

After more than two years in the camp, in April this year the military stepped up the pressure on him.

"They put me in the interrogation room and used it as a refrigerator. They set the temperature to minus degrees so it was terribly cold and one had to freeze there for many hours -- 12-14 hours one had to sit there, chained," he said, adding that he had partially lost the feeling in one foot since then.

CHAINED FEET

Ghezali said he was deprived of sleep for about two weeks by constant switching of cells and interrogation, was exposed to powerful flashes of light in a dark room, to very loud music and noise and was chained for long periods in painful positions.

"They forced me down with chained feet. Then they took away the chains from the hands, pulled the arms under the legs and chained them hard again. I could not move," he said.

After several hours his feet were swollen and his whole body was aching. "The worst was in the back and the legs," he said.

Some of these torture methods have also been used by the U.S. military on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in a scandal which has embarrassed the U.S. government this year.

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds told public radio that if correct, the allegations meant that the U.S. had broken international laws. "That is wholly unacceptable," Freivalds said.

She said that she hoped that the U.S. would investigate the allegations.

Ghezali said he went Pakistan to study Islam in August 2001, before the September 11 attacks which triggered President Bush's war on terrorism and the invasion of Afghanistan.

He said he was visiting a friend in the Afghan town of Jalalabad near the Pakistani border when the U.S. attack started and decided to return to Pakistan when he heard that villagers were selling foreigners to the U.S. forces.

But he was captured by Pakistani villagers while crossing the border from Afghanistan and sold to Pakistani police, who turned him over to the U.S. military. He was flown from Pakistan to Afghanistan and arrived in Guantanamo in January 2002.



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