Afghanistan demands return of Guantanamo prisoner

Other News Materials 1 June 2009 16:19 (UTC +04:00)

Afghanistan has demanded that the United States return a young Afghan who has spent his teenage years in the Guantanamo Bay prison where lawyers said Monday he was regularly tortured.

The Afghan government has sent a letter to the US embassy in Kabul demanding the repatriation of Mohammad Jawad, arrested in 2002 when he was 12 years old, a senior government lawyer told AFP.

"We expect the US government to return Jawad without any delay," Sayed Sharif Sharif told AFP.

The detention of the youngster, now aged 19, was "totally illegal", he added.

Afghan police arrested Jawad in Kabul in December 2002 after a grenade attack which injured two US soldiers. He was later handed over to the US military which took him to its prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

His US government-assigned lawyers, who are in Kabul to push the Afghan authorities to demand his release, say he is innocent.

The boy had been tortured during his detention, one of the military defence lawyers, Major Eric Montalvo, told a press conference in Kabul.

"There is no dispute that Jawad was tortured in the hands of the US government over the last seven years," he said, adding such facts had been established in US courts.

The chief of Afghanistan's Bar Association, Rohullah Qarizada, told reporters: "Jawad has encountered extremely inhuman violence, abuse and torture during interrogation in Guantanamo."

This included sleep deprivation, beating and death threats, he said.

"They would make him hold a bottle in his hand, telling him that it was a grenade which would explode if he dropped it," Qarizada said.

"They also sprayed pepper into his eyes," he said, citing information provided by the US lawyers.

Jawad tried several times to commit suicide by smashing his head on the walls of his cell, he said.

Jawad is believed to be the youngest among a host of Afghans rounded up in the US-led "war on terror," launched with the 2001 invasion that toppled the Taliban government, and sent to the controversial prison.