A trove of over 750 US military dossiers on Guantánamo detainees leaked to international media, including the New York Times and the Guardian, have revealed that many inmates were kept incarcerated for years on flimsy evidence, or information extracted under torture.
Many incarcerated were victims of circumstance, including an 89 year-old Afghan villager suffering from senile dementia who had “suspicious phone numbers” in his house, a 14 year-old kidnap victim “with possible knowledge of local Taliban leaders”, and a journalist for al-Jazeera.
The latter was imprisoned for six years during which time he was interrogated “on the al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and news-gathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan.”
The documents also include a summary of evidence against former Maldivian Guantánamo detainee Ibrahim Fauzee, dated 2004.
According to the document, Fauzee was arrested in Pakistan while he was living in “a suspected al Qaida safehouse.” His telephone number was “ found in terrorist detainees’ pocket litter”, and “the detainee’s point of contact telephone number was associated with a Sudanese teacher who assisted Arabs traveling to training camps in Afghanistan.”
Fauzee was subsequently released and transferred to the Maldives on March 11, 2005, where he now heads the Islamic Foundation NGO.
The documents also reveal that that US authorities privately listed the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah, and that US authorities relied heavily on evidence obtained under torture from a small number of detainees.
Other indicators used as an assessment of terrorist potential included possession of a Casio F-91W digital watch, which “was known to be given to the students at al-Qaida bomb-making training courses in Afghanistan [during] which the students received instruction in the preparation of timing devices using the watch.”
US President Barak Obama vowed to close the controverisal military prison but has been unable to transfer the remaining 172 detainees. The Maldives was last year in negotiations to accept several inmates, with leaked diplomatic cables revealing that the country was offered US$85,000 to assist with the “resettlement expenses” of an inmate.
Those who remain include the severely-tortured, informers requiring protection, and group of Chinese Uighur minority Muslims.
The leaked dossiers are among hundreds of thousands leaked to Wikileaks last year, allegedly by US soldier Bradley Manning, who remains in custody.
In a response to the Guardian, the Pentagon criticised the release of the documents, claiming that “the situation with the Guantánamo detention facility is exceptionally complex and releasing any records will further complicate ongoing actions.”