BOSTON – Lawyers for six Algerian-Bosnian detainees at the Guantanamo Bay (search) prison camp sued the U.S. government Wednesday, leveling new allegations of abuse and torture by U.S. forces there.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, asks a judge to force the Department of Justice (search) and Department of Defense (search) to release information that would allegedly prove the torture of prisoners by American forces at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.
Lawyers for the six men — all Algerians with Bosnian citizenship — allege that repeated requests to release the information under the Freedom of Information Act (search) have been ignored by the federal government.
One of the Bosnian detainees, Mustafa Ait Idir, claims in the lawsuit that he was severely beaten while his hands were tied behind his back.
"The guards picked him up and slammed his body and his head into the steel bunk in his cell," the lawsuit says. "They then threw him on the floor and continued to pound his body and bang his head into the floor."
The guards then held his face in the toilet "and repeatedly pressed the flush button," according to the lawsuit.
"We cannot comment on the lawsuit as we have not received the complaint," Department of Defense spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said in an e-mailed statement. "However, with regard to allegations of detainee abuse, U.S. policy requires that all detainees be treated humanely."
The six plaintiffs were arrested in October 2001 after U.S. intelligence indicated they were planning attacks on U.S. and British embassies in Sarajevo (search), and on a U.S. military base in the Bosnian city of Tuzla (search).
They are among 540 prisoners from some 40 countries who are being held at Guantanamo Bay. Most are accused of having links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or the Al Qaeda terror network.
In February, a secret U.S. military report obtained by The Associated Press said there were videotapes of riot squads subduing Guantanamo detainees by punching some of them, tying one to a gurney for questioning and forcing a dozen to strip from the waist down.
Human rights groups and defense lawyers have long charged that some information used as the basis for incarceration at Guantanamo Bay resulted from abuse or torture.
The government has denied using torture, but multiple investigations into abuse at detention camps in Afghanistan and Guantanamo are under way.