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Ex-detainee recounts 16 nights of interrogation at Guantanamo

Paris — A former Guantanamo detainee taken in by France recounted his ordeal in an interview on Tuesday, saying he was subjected to 16 straight nights of interrogation at the US prison camp.

Algerian national Lakhdar Boumediene underwent harsh treatment in February 2003 at the hands of US interrogators who sought information on Muslim charity groups that he had worked for in Bosnia and on the Arab community in Sarajevo.

"It would start at midnight and last until five in the morning," Boumediene told the French daily Le Monde. "They would stop for a few hours then start again. There were six or seven of them and they would relay each other. At the end of the sixth or seventh night, a doctor examined me and told my jailers that everything was fine and that they could continue."

Known as prisoner 10005, Boumediene fought back against his detention by staging a hunger strike that started in February 2006 until his release.

He said he was subjected to forced feeding with a nasal tube.

The 43-year-old Algerian father of two suffered from poor health when he arrived in France on May 15, weakened by the hunger strike and the seven years spent at Guantanamo.

Boumediene was taken to a military hospital outside Paris for treatment and on Monday he was released and able to join his family for a pizza lunch at a restaurant in the French capital.

Arrested in Bosnia in 2001 along with five other suspects jailed in Guantanamo, Boumediene was charged with plotting to attack the US embassy in Sarajevo.

Five of the six were cleared for release in November by a US judge who ruled they had been illegally detained.

The Algerian national had been working for the Red Crescent Muslim aid agency in Bosnia since his arrival in the Balkans in 1997, after spending time in Albania, Yemen and two years in Pakistan.

During a visit to Algeria in 2000, police arrested him at the airport at a time when Algerian authorities were worried that Islamist GIA fighters were fleeing the country.

Boumediene, who was detained for five days but then let go, told Le Monde: "I have never been an Islamist. I think it was this episode that led to my arrest."

President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed following a meeting with President Barack Obama in Strasbourg last month to take in the detainee and said Europe should help Washington close down Guantanamo by taking in prisoners.