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CHENNAI: WikiLeaks, the whistleblower site on the Internet, released secret documents on Thursday relating to the majority of 779 prisoners detained by the United States since 9/11 at Guantanamo Bay.
Most of the prisoners have now been released but 172 still remain in the offshore U.S. prison, located in Cuba. During his 2008 election campaign, President Barack Obama promised to shut down the prison, notorious for its use of torture and other brutal coercive practices during interrogation.
As he prepares to make a bid for a second term in office, the unkept promise on Gitmo, as the prison is known, is seen as one of the big failures of the Obama Administration.
Earlier this week, the Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post, among other Western newspapers, published a section of the documents. WikiLeaks has now decided to release them all.
The documents, spanning a period from 2002 to 2008, can be viewed at http://wikileaks.ch/gitmo/ prisoner/ 10020.html
Classified as “secret,” the documents contain detailed case descriptions of 759 prisoners. Written by the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, they are addressed to the U.S. Southern Command at Miami, Florida. As the site reveals, the maximum number of prisoners at the prison were from Afghanistan (223), followed by Saudi Arabia (135), Yemen (110) and Pakistan (69). There were no detainees from India.
In November 2008, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the National Assembly in response to a question that only six Pakistanis remained at Guantanamo, and that the government was making efforts for their release.
Among the six are Ammar al Baluchi, a senior Al Qaeda operative and nephew of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, the self-confessed mastermind of 9/11; Majid Khan, said to have been hired into the Al Qaeda by Khalid Sheikh Muhammed; and Saifullah Paracha, a businessman who offered his services to the Al Qaeda.
Their files are bound to reopen the debate about Aafia Siddiqi, an MIT graduate whose imprisonment in the U.S since 2008 turned her into a heroine in Pakistan, and added to the anti-American sentiment in the country.
For most Pakistanis, she is an innocent woman who has been demonised by the U.S. The dossiers of the three Pakistanis cast Ms. Siddiqui in a different, more dubious light. However, WikiLeaks cautions that in all cases the information in the reports could be unreliable as coercion was likely used to obtain it.
The Guantanmo files contain allegations that she was a key figure in an Al Qaeda plan to smuggle explosives to the U.S. and manufacture biological weapons.
Ms. Siddiqui, who is said to have married al Baluchi, was missing since 2003 until she surfaced in Afghanistan in mysterious circumstances. She was detained by U.S. forces in Ghazni province in Afghanistan in 2008.
Surprisingly, U.S. prosecutors did not bring terrorism charges against her. She was tried and convicted by a federal court for attempting to murder U.S. soldiers with a military weapon left unattended during her detention in Afghanistan. She is now serving an 86-year sentence.
The WikiLeak documents, running into thousands of pages, contain detailed assessments of all the prisoners, recommending them for continued detention, release or continued detention after release in the country of repatriation.
Each dossier contains a personal sketch of the prisoner, his health status, the circumstances of his capture, the prisoner's account obtained through interrogation, an evaluation of the account, the risk he poses (“high”, “medium”, “low) to the U.S. and the worth of each as a source of intelligence.
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