Russia abused ex-Gitmo detainees: claim

March 29, 2007 at 9:51 AM
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NEW YORK, March 29 (UPI) -- Former Guantanamo detainees who were sent home to Russia in 2004 experienced torture and other abuse, a U.S. rights group said Wednesday.

The torture and abuse were inflicted despite Moscow's pledge to the U.S. government that they would be treated humanely, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released Wednesday.

"The Russian prisoners' experience illustrates why the United States should stop relying on 'diplomatic assurances' of fair treatment to justify sending prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to countries where they are at risk of torture, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

"The seven Russians were all detained soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and eventually spent about two years in Guantanamo. Although they complained of mistreatment by the Americans, all of the detainees repeatedly asked authorities at Guantanamo not to be returned to Russia because they expected to be treated worse there. And indeed, three of them experienced serious torture and ill-treatment after being arrested in Russia. Two of them were convicted at unfair trials, and all of them have been harassed and hounded by Russian law enforcement," the statement said.

The 43-page report is entitled "The 'Stamp of Guantanamo: The Story of Seven Men Betrayed by Russia's Diplomatic Assurances to the United States."

"Access to the ex-detainees is limited because three of them are in prison and the rest have either managed to leave the country or are in hiding," HRW said.

"The Russian experience shows why 'diplomatic assurances' simply don't work," said Carroll Bogert, associate director of Human Rights Watch and author of the report. "Governments with records of torture don't suddenly change their behavior because the U.S. government claims to have extracted some kind of assurance from them."

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