August 3, 2005

Amnesty says Yemenis held in secret U.S. detention

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two men now in a Yemeni prison appear
to have been kept in secret U.S. detention facilities in
solitary confinement for more than 18 months, Amnesty
International said in a report on Wednesday.

The human rights organization said interviews with Salah
Nasser Salim 'Ali, 27, and Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah, 37,
indicated they were victims of "the U.S. administration's
policy of secret detentions around the world."

"Their testimony will hopefully shed light on U.S.
detention centers just as sinister, yet less well-known, than
Guantanamo," said William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty
International USA.

Yemeni authorities said the men had been transferred from
the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba about
three months ago at the request of U.S. officials, but Amnesty
said separate interviews with the Yemeni detainees painted a
different picture.

Amnesty said the men could not have been held at Guantanamo
based on the length of travel they said they took from their
initial confinement in Jordan and their description of
underground detention facilities.

Human rights groups have railed against a practice known as
rendition, in which detainees are transferred from one country
to another, often in secret and without legal safeguards.

"The Department of Defense does not engage in renditions,"
said Air Force Maj. Mike Shavers, a spokesman for the
department that operates the facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Shavers said records of who had been held in Guantanamo
were confidential.

The men, who claim they were tortured and beaten in four
days of confinement in Jordan, said after their transfer they
saw no daylight, had no chance of outside communication and
were not told why they were detained,

"We fear that we have heard from these two men is just one
small part of the much broader picture of U.S. secret
detentions around the world," said Amnesty's Sharon Critoph,
who interviewed the men in the Yemeni prison.

Amnesty, which claims the United States is holding
detainees in secret in countries that could include Jordan,
Pakistan, Egypt, Thailand and Afghanistan, called on the U.S.
government to disclose the whereabouts of secret detention
facilities, disclose the identity of detainees and take
immediate steps to end secret detentions.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Sudam)