Judge urged to drop Guantanamo charge

Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:53am EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A military defense lawyer urged a Guantanamo judge to help restore America's reputation by dropping attempted murder charges against an Afghan prisoner who was subjected to 14 consecutive days of sleep deprivation.

"You have an opportunity to restore just a bit of America's lost luster," Air Force Maj. David Frakt told the judge presiding in the war crimes case against Afghan prisoner Mohammed Jawad.

Jawad is accused in the Guantanamo tribunal of 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.

Jawad, now 23 and bearded, was 16 or 17 when Afghan police arrested him and turned him over to U.S. forces. They brought him to the detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, where he was subjected to what was known as the "frequent flyer program."

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.

"Day and night they were shifting me from one place to another place," Jawad testified through a Pashto interpreter. "Nobody answered why they are giving me this punishment."

Detention logs indicate Jawad was not interrogated during that time nor for three months afterward. But a former Guantanamo intelligence chief said the program had also been used for disciplinary purposes.

Frakt 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 the prison camp explicitly banned the "frequent flyer" program.   Continued...

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