Guantanamo inmate accuses US military of sexual assault against detainees

[JURIST] Younis Chekkouri, a Moroccan Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainee, recently disclosed [Al Jazeera report] in a letter to his lawyer that the US military personnel are punishing him and other hunger-strikers every time they leave or return to their cells. Chekkouri described being surrounded by eight guards and a watch commander in a room while two guards "put their hands all over" him. Todd Breasseale, speaking on behalf of the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website], has stated:

We will not be discussing this matter in the press because it is currently in active litigation and we will have nothing to add until it is decided in court...Generally speaking, however, I can tell you that those entrusted with safeguarding the detainees at JTF Guantanamo Bay are some of the most professional, most heavily scrutinized guards on the planet and absurd accusations simply do not withstand intellectual rigor.

Chekkouri's lawyer, however, claims that assault is a tactic used to prevent inmates from spreading information about what is happening inside Guantanamo Bay to the outside world. He stated that if detainees must weigh whether to disclose information against prospective assault, they will choose to withhold information to avoid the assault.

Last month, a federal judge called on members of Congress and President Barack Obama [official website] to give serious consideration to formulating a different approach [JURIST report] for the handling of Guantanamo Bay detainee cases. Just days prior, Obama had appointed [JURIST report] Clifford Sloan to be the new envoy in charge of closing Guantanamo Bay. The appointment follows a speech [JURIST report] Obama made in May that outlined US counterterrorism policy and efforts. In his speech, he detailed the steps needed to get prisoners out of Guantanamo, but cautioned that he cannot close the facility on his own. In contrast, the House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved [JURIST report] the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [HR 1960, PDF] in early June, which allocates more than 200 million dollars to keep the detention center open.

 

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