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Hicks 'tortured' in jail

Case Information
AUSTRALIAN terrorist suspect David Hicks has suffered untold psychological damage at Guantanamo Bay, which may take the rest of his life to get over, a US security expert says.

Three recent suicides at Guantanamo Bay have intensified calls for the military prison to be closed.

Alfred McCoy, an expert on torture techniques by he US Central Intelligence Agency, said Guantanamo Bay was not a conventional military prison.

"It's an ad hoc laboratory for the perfection of CIA psychological torture," he said.

"It's designed to break down every detainee confined there."

He claims that among the sensory deprivation techniques being used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay was sound and light blasting, being confined in the dark and shackling.

Professor McCoy disputed Australian government claims that Hicks was fit and well.

"David Hicks has suffered untold psychological damage that will take a great deal of care, a great deal of treatment and probably the rest of his life to move beyond," he said.

"To say that David Hicks has not been tortured, to say that David Hicks is only suffering from a sore back ... I think that just flies in the face of fact.

"It represents an ignorance of what torture is, particularly what psychological torture is."

Prof McCoy said Hicks was kept in extreme solitary confinement for 244 days.

"A dark cell, denied any sunlight, denied any emotional support, his contact limited to once a week visits with his military chaplain," he said.

"That's an extreme form of sensory disorientation, that leads to tremendous psychological damage."

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday said he was satisfied Hicks was not depressive or a suicide risk and that his only health complaint was a bad back.

Mr Downer also disputed suggestions Hicks was in solitary confinement at the Cuban prison.

While Guantanamo Bay was a maximum-security facility, it was no worse than facilities on the US mainland, he said.

Hicks has been held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba since shortly after he was captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Government says consular officials have found Hicks fit and well but his US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, believes he is in poor health, showing weight loss and continuing signs of depression.

Senate vote on Hicks, Guantanamo closure
A recent independent survey by two US attorneys, based on Pentagon figures, has revealed 55 percent of Guantanamo detainees are determined not to have committed any hostile act against US or Coalition forces, the Australian Democrats said today.

The report, by Mark and Joshua Denbeaux, claims that of the remaining detainees, only 8 percent are believed to be Al Qaeda fighters while the rest have no affiliation with either Al Qaeda or the Taliban (1).

"This report is further evidence of the danger of allowing a detention facility to operate outside the protection of any national or international laws," Democrats' Attorney-Generals Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

"The Guantanamo Bay military facility is saturated with breaches of international law and should be shut down. The Australian Government is now out on a limb as one of the sole remaining defenders of the facility.

"Today in the Senate, the Government voted down an Australian Democrats' motion calling on the Government to join international calls for Guantanamo Bay to be closed, and calling for Australian citizen David Hicks to be repatriated.

"The motion cited the number of international leaders who have openly called for the prisons closure, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair; and noted the negative findings of the Guantanamo facility by British Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith

"It cited UN calls for Guantanamo Bay to be closed, on the grounds it breaches international law, and repeated calls by human rights groups such as Amnesty International for the facility to be shut down.

"The motion also cited the CIAs long history of the use of torture and physical and psychological punishment bordering on torture, as documented most recently by American historian, Professor Alfred W. McCoy," Senator Stott Despoja.

(1) Report on Guantanamo detainees: A profile of 517 detainees through analysis of Department of Defense data, p2

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