Tuesday, June 28, 2005
LAHORE, Pakistan, June 28 -- Pakistanis freed from jail here after being held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleged Monday that they saw American interrogators throw, tear and stand on copies of the Koran, and one former detainee said naked women sat on prisoners' chests during questioning.
The Pentagon denied the accusations and said al Qaeda training manuals instruct prisoners to make such charges.
The men acknowledged they were aware of the international furor sparked by previous reports about desecration of the Koran. The reports -- notably one in Newsweek, which later retracted it -- triggered protests across the Islamic world and deadly riots in Afghanistan last month.
Seventeen Pakistanis were freed Monday from a jail in this eastern city, where they had been held since their release nine months ago from Guantanamo. A Pakistani official said each had been "declared innocent by America" and cleared of involvement in terrorism by Pakistani intelligence.
The men had joyful family reunions outside the jail in Lahore. Six who were interviewed briefly said they were arrested in Afghanistan after going there to fight U.S.-led forces that ousted the hard-line Taliban rulers in late 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.
The Pentagon this month released details of five cases in which U.S. guards at Guantanamo mishandled the Koran, including incidents in which one copy of the book was splashed with urine and another was stepped on.