A detainee at a U.S. military prison alleges that U.S. military guards jumped on his head until he had a stroke that paralyzed his face, nearly drowned him in a toilet and later broke several of his fingers, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court.
The detainee, Mustafa Ait Idr, 34, an Algerian citizen living in Bosnia, has been held at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for three years on suspicion that he plotted to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia. The lawsuit, filed by his attorneys in federal court in Boston, alleges that the government has probably videotaped Idr's beatings and demands that it produce any such tapes and all records of alleged torture and interrogation tactics at the detention facility.
The lawyers asked for the material seven months ago under the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit asserts that the Defense and Justice departments are refusing to provide the material.
A Defense Department representative, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the department does not comment on individual detainees' cases and could not comment on the lawsuit because it had not yet received it.
Idr described the alleged abuse to his attorneys when they visited him in Cuba recently. His account of the beatings is very similar to written military summaries of the incidents, according to the lawsuit.
The military videotaped the work of teams of prison guards responsible for quelling disturbances by detainees and created written summaries of the material on the tapes. More than two dozen detainees have alleged in declassified accounts given to their attorneys that the teams' real purpose was to force them to confess or cooperate with interrogators.
"The departments of Defense and Justice must explain how these abuses happened and take action," said Avi Cover, senior associate at Human Rights First, an advocacy group.
Idr was accused of plotting with five others to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo in November 2001. All were acquitted by a Bosnian court in January 2002, but U.S. agents arrested them as they left the courthouse and eventually took them to Guantanamo Bay.
Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.