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British Ex-Gitmo Detainee Says U.S. Military Police Beat Him

By Patrick E. Tyler

The New York Times -- LONDON

One of the British detainees released from Guantanamo Bay has charged that he was brutally beaten by the U.S. military police, and that he and his fellow captives were subjected to mistreatment and humiliation.

In an interview published Thursday in The Daily Mirror, Jamal al-Harith, 37, who goes by the name Jamal Udeen, also said that U.S. military officials had brought prostitutes to the detention facility “about ten times” and had paraded them before the younger and more devout Muslim prisoners as a form of “psychological torture.”

Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Burfeind, a Pentagon spokeswoman, dismissed Udeen’s assertions as completely false.

“All detainees are treated humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in accordance with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949,” she said. “As the president has said before, U.S. policy condemns and prohibits torture. When questioning enemy combatants, U.S. personnel are required to follow this policy and applicable law.”

Udeen’s account is the first to emerge from the five British prisoners who flew home from Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday and were released after a brief period of questioning by the anti-terrorism police. The government of Prime Minister Tony Blair has been bracing for a still uncertain public reaction to the detainees’ personal accounts of life at Camp Delta. More of the accounts are expected to emerge in the next few days.

Separately on Thursday, a reporter for The Times of London, Tim Reid, wrote that he had met Udeen in a Kandahar jail, where fleeing Taliban forces had left him in early January 2002. Reid wrote that Udeen said he had been arrested by the Taliban, during a journey across Afghanistan to Iran, because he carried a British passport.

“If I came here to fight, I wouldn’t have been thrown in prison,” Udeen reportedly said in 2002.