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Australians say torture behind Gitmo admissions

26 april 2011, 15:50
Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk
Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk
Two Australians held as "high risk" inmates at Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday hit back at claims in their leaked files, insisting that any admissions they made were false and obtained under torture, AFP reports.

The secret files of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib were among hundreds published Monday by whistleblowing site WikiLeaks and showed that US officials considered the Australians of high intelligence value.

Habib, 56, was suspected of being a "money courier and a terrorist operations facilitator" with ties to Al-Qaeda, while Hicks, 38, was described as "highly trained, experienced, and combat-hardened".

According to his file, Habib told Egyptian interrogators "under extreme duress" that he planned to hijack a Qantas plane in a synchronised attack with a friend in Thailand and had trained some of the 9/11 plotters in martial arts.

He later retracted the statements and insisted he was lying, his file said.

Habib is suing Egypt's former vice president and ex-leader Hosni Mubarak's son for alleged torture by the country's authorities, and on Tuesday said the reference to "extreme duress" proved his claims.

"Egyptian government, until now, deny that I was there. I have it in writing," he told ABC radio. "My story is being backed up."

Habib alleges that he was electrocuted, burned, deprived of sleep and injected with drugs and said he may have admitted to things he didn't actually do.

"Maybe some stuff happened by me under drugs, I'm not aware of it, to be honest," said the Egyptian-born father of four.

"But as to a wake up person... I never admit to anything, no."

Habib was released without charge in January 2005 after two-and-a-half years in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba.

He won an out-of-court settlement with the Australian government over his treatment earlier this year, though Canberra indicated it did not admit legal liability.

Once dubbed the "Aussie Taliban", Hicks also strongly refuted the contents of his file, which he said was peppered with errors and admissions about links to Al-Qaeda that were obtained under duress.

Hicks was convicted by a military commission of providing material support for terrorism after agreeing a plea deal. He was held in Guantanamo for five-and-a-half years.

"Any and all statements were obtained under torture, this is why he was not taken through a regularly constituted court," Hicks's lawyer wife Aloysia told The Australian newspaper.

"In the final military commissions hearing David's legal team entered what is called the Alford Plea. This is a US-based plea in which an accused person can agree to plead guilty while maintaining innocence," she added.

"David has always maintained his innocence and strongly denies that he was involved in any terrorist organisations. He did what he had to do to come home."

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