Guantanamo prisoner cites 2-week sleep deprivation

Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:53pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - An Afghan prisoner subjected to 14 consecutive days of sleep deprivation at Guantanamo interrupted his war crimes hearing on Thursday to ask why a Harvard sleep expert was needed to testify about the effects of such treatment.

"They should give me time to talk about my sleeplessness," defendant Mohammed Jawad said through a Pashto interpreter.

He got his wish -- in a hearing following last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the 270 Guantanamo prisoners have the right to contest their detention in the U.S. federal courts -- and was sworn in to testify about his treatment in the prison camp's "frequent flyer" program in May 2004.

"Day and night they were shifting me from one place to another place," Jawad said. "Nobody answered why they are giving me this punishment."

Jawad is accused in the Guantanamo tribunal with throwing a grenade into a U.S. military jeep at a bazaar in Kabul in December 2002, injuring two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter. His military lawyer, Air Force Maj. David Frakt, asked that the charges be dropped on grounds that Jawad was subjected to banned treatment that violated U.S. law and Defense Department policy.

Over 14 days in May 2004 he was shackled and moved from one cell to another 112 times -- on average every two hours and 50 minutes but with more frequent moves at night "to ensure maximum disruption of sleep," Frakt said in legal documents.

Detention logs indicate Jawad was not interrogated during that time nor for three months afterward, so the treatment may have been done "intentionally to inflict suffering," Frakt wrote.

He said the treatment began five months after Jawad tried to hang himself in his cell, and two months after the military commander in charge of Guantanamo explicitly banned the "frequent flyer" program.   Continued...

<p>Omar Khadr is seen in this undated family portrait. REUTERS/Handout</p>