|VOICE OF AMERICA|
SLUG: 2-319955 Guantanamo Lawsuit (L)
TITLE= GITMO DETAINEE LAWSUIT (L)
BYLINE= NICK SIMEONE
HEADLINE: Former Guantanamo Prisoners file 40 Million Dollar Lawsuit against Rumsfeld, U.S. Military
INTRO: Four British Muslims who were held by the U.S. military as enemy combatants in the war on terrorism are suing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. top military commanders for alleged abuses including what they say was torture. Correspondent Nick Simeone reports from the Pentagon.
TEXT: The former detainees allege they were stripped naked, beaten and subjected to abusive treatment before their release from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in March without charge.
Their attorney, Eric Lewis, is seeking 10 million dollars in damages for each of the four who spent two and a half years in detention.
/// LEWIS ACT ///
"It is a nightmarish tale of forced nakedness, beatings, repeated harassment in the exercise of their religious beliefs. They were intimidated by unmuzzled dogs, they were interrogated with guns to foreheads and it went on and on without charge."
/// END ACT ///
Among those named as defendants are Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers. The plaintiffs say the case marks the first time that specific U.S. government officials have been named as defendants in a lawsuit brought by former Guantanamo detainees.
Attorney Steven Watt of the Center for Constitutional Rights is among those representing the four.
/// WATT ACT ///
"In this lawsuit, they seek to highlight the mistreatment to which they were subjected and they speak for the hundreds of others that were similarly incarcerated and subjected to similar such treatment."
/// END ACT ///
Here at the Pentagon, spokesman Major Michael Shavers would not respond to the specific allegations in the lawsuit, but stressed the United States treats all enemy combatants consistent with legal obligations prohibiting torture. And, he denies any legal basis exists to pay damages to individuals who he says were captured in Afghanistan fighting illegally for al-Qaida.
But a Pentagon report into military detention practices released in August found that at least eight cases of abuse by guards at Guantanamo that were under investigation. (SIGNED)
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