View Full Version : Russian ex-Guantanamo inmate tells of Koran abuse

06-28-2005, 05:14 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050628/ts_nm/russia_guantanamo_dc;_ylt=Aigj0CsDst_XMvtpO8g9lbpZ .3QA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Russian ex-Guantanamo inmate tells of Koran abuse

By Sonia Oxley
Tue Jun 28, 7:56 AM ET

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian citizen released last year from Guantanamo Bay prison said on Tuesday U.S. guards at the camp regularly threw copies of the Koran into toilets.

Earlier this month, the U.S. military described cases of "mishandling" of a Koran by U.S. personnel at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including splashing it with urine and kicking it.

"In Cuba, they used to take them (the Koran) and throw them, take them and throw them, into lavatories or elsewhere. It happened regularly and this was to provoke protests," Airat Vakhitov, told reporters.

"In the summer of 2003, there was a big hunger strike, which 300 people took part in, over the abuse of the Koran."

Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence.

Vakhitov's comments were similar to those in an article published by Newsweek magazine in May and later retracted, which said interrogators at the prison had flushed at least one copy of the Koran down a toilet to make detainees talk.

The story sparked violent protests in some Muslim countries.

The magazine said it could not substantiate the report that an internal military inquiry found that the Koran had been abused at the jail.

The United States holds about 520 detainees from more than 40 countries at the Guantanamo prison camp, which it opened in January 2002 in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Many have been held for more than three years and only four have been charged.


Vakhitov, 28, who wants the United States publicly to absolve him, is suing the U.S. government.

"This is not about any kind of compensation. I want the United States to publicly acknowledge my innocence," he said, adding that a U.S. civil court would be looking at his case.

Vakhitov said he spent 18 months at the camp locked in a tiny cell and allowed out for a 15-minute walk twice a week and a shower twice a week.

"There was sleep deprivation...there were instances when they set dogs on us," he said of his jailers. "During prayer time, they played loud music."

He said officials at the camp admitted to him that they knew he had nothing to do with al Qaeda, the group believed to be behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The questions focused on my participation in cooperation with the special services -- they said: 'We know you have absolutely nothing to do with al Qaeda, we consider you a Russian intelligence officer'."

Vakhitov said he had been kidnapped by members of the radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and taken to
Afghanistan, where he was sold to U.S. officials for $5,000 as a terrorist.

He and six other Russians were released last year and sent back to Russia, where he said they were being persecuted because they had not been properly cleared or issued with the necessary documents.

"Whenever there is an outbreak of violence or a blast in our region...they arrest us," he said.