- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2004

LONDON — Five British men released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba this week were enjoying a taste of freedom with their families yesterday as they considered lucrative media offers to describe their experiences in the U.S. prison camp over the past two years.

Two of them accused the American military of punishment beatings and psychological torture, and the father of a third man threatened a lawsuit.

Four more British men are still imprisoned in Cuba.

“The whole point of Guantanamo was to get to you psychologically. The beatings were not as nearly as bad as the psychological torture — bruises heal after a week but the other stuff stays with you,” Jamal al Harith, 37, told the Daily Mirror.

“Recreation meant your legs were untied and you walked up and down a strip of gravel. They actually said that, ‘You have no rights here.’ After a while, we stopped asking for human rights — we wanted animal rights,” he said.

Tarek Dergoul, 26, issued a statement through his attorney condemning the “horrific” treatment he received. It said he had experienced “botched medical treatment, interrogation at gunpoint, beatings and inhuman conditions.”

The statement said: “Tarek Dergoul condemns the U.S. and the U.K. governments for these gross breaches of human rights and demands the immediate release of all other detainees at Guantanamo Bay.”

The father, Ruhal Ahmed, said he would sue the British and U.S. governments over his son’s two-year incarceration at the camp.

Riasoth Ahmed said Ruhal, 22, had suffered greatly during his detention.

“I am going to sue [the U.S. authorities] and probably the British government, too,” he said.

His son “is a good person. He was not charged with anything,” he said.

After being released from Paddington Green police station in London after their return from Cuba, the men were reunited with relatives away from the media presence outside their homes.

They spent yesterday discussing offers for their stories in the region of $100,000 or more.

One of the five — Jamal Udeen, 37, from Manchester, has already signed a $108,000 deal with the Mirror newspaper and ITV’s “Tonight with Trevor McDonald.”

Udeen was found by the Americans in Kandahar after being imprisoned by the Taliban, who accused him of being a British spy. But the U.S. military, suspecting him of involvement with the Taliban and al Qaeda, transferred him to Guantanamo.

The other detainees are likely to be offered similar amounts of money for their stories.

Meanwhile, British prosecutors yesterday decided to drop a pending theft charge against Ruhal Ahmed. He was facing re-arrest on a charge of stealing a set of wheels and tires from a car in March 2001, as well as driving without insurance.

He faced a two-year jail sentence if convicted. Sources said if the charge were pressed, the two years spent in Cuba without charge would have been deemed time served.

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