Germany 'tried to paint me as a liar': Kurnaz
22 November 2006, Brussels (dpa) - A former Guantanamo prisoner on Wednesday accused German and Turkish authorities of failing to help him escape unjustified imprisonment and torture linked to his years-long term in the US military camp on Cuba. Murat Kurnaz, a German resident with Turkish citizenship, was held for more than four years at Guantanamo Bay, where he was classified by Washington as an "enemy combatant." He was released last August. Neither the German nor the Turkish authorities tried to releas
22 November 2006
Brussels (dpa) - A former Guantanamo prisoner on Wednesday accused German and Turkish authorities of failing to help him escape unjustified imprisonment and torture linked to his years-long term in the US military camp on Cuba.
Murat Kurnaz, a German resident with Turkish citizenship, was held for more than four years at Guantanamo Bay, where he was classified by Washington as an "enemy combatant." He was released last August.
Neither the German nor the Turkish authorities tried to release him from Guantanamo but instead shifted their responsibility on to the US government, Kurnaz told a special European Parliament committee investigating charges of illegal US secret service activities in Europe.
Kurnaz was arrested in Pakistan two months after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. He was handed over to US authorities who took him to Guantanamo in January 2002, saying he was suspected of supporting Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers.
Kurnaz told MEPs that he went to Pakistan to "deepen his (Muslim) faith" but that he had never done anything illegal.
But Germany rejected a US offer to release Kurnaz from Guantanamo in October 2002, with Washington saying that there was no case against him, his lawyer told Euro MPs.
Back in Germany, however, authorities "tried to paint me as a liar though they had decided to leave me in Guantanamo," Kurnaz said.
The Turkish government also "didn't bother at all about me while I was imprisoned (on Guantanamo)," he said. "They thought I was a spy for Germany," Kurnaz added.
Turkish officials interrogating him in the camp had told him that it was up to the US to relase him, Kurnaz said. Other Guantanamo inmates with Turkish citizenship, however, were taken back to Turkey, he claimed.
Kurnaz also said that German soldiers in Afghanistan mistreated him before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
US forces had handed him over to two members of the German Special Forces Command, KSK, who had pulled his head back, banged his head on the floor and one stamped on him, Kurnaz said.
"They asked me if I knew who they were and then they said 'We are the KSK'," he told Euro MPs, adding that the men had German flags on their uniforms and spoke German with him.
"I thought they would have some questions and that they could help me, but they told me I had chosen the wrong side," Kurnaz said.
The German Defence Ministry is currently investigating the claims. After saying that it had no evidence that German soldiers had interrogated Kurnaz, the authority last week admitted that KSK forces had been "in contact" with him, German media reported.
"It doesn't take much imagination (to believe) that the KSK soldiers were capable of doing that," Kurnaz said. "They were there to help the Americans, and we know from the Abu Ghraib case what US soldiers were doing there."
Kurnaz also told the European committee that officials from Denmark and Belgium had visited nationals imprisoned in the Guantanamo camp.
A German parliamentary committee is currently studying whether German security agencies breached any German rules while assisting post-2001 US anti-terrorism operations.
Euro MPs earlier this year slammed the former Social Democrat-Green German government for failing to "come clean" over its involvement in the Kurnaz case.
US authorities never issued an arrest warrant and there was no legal procedure against Kurnaz, his lawyer has said.
During his term in Guantanamo, Kurnaz claims he was repeatedly mistreated, psychologically tortured and kept undernourished.
Subject: German news