Monday, March 27, 2023

Former Guantanamo prisoner: Ron DeSantis watched me being tortured

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A former detainee of the Guantanamo Bay jail camp has claimed that Florida governor and 2024 presidential contender Ron DeSantis witnessed him being tortured through the time he was stationed there.

Mansoor Adayfi, a Yemeni citizen who was held for 14 years on the US Naval base in Cuba, advised The Impartial in a unprecedented interview that he was brutally force-fed by camp employees throughout a starvation strike in 2006, and that Mr DeSantis was current for no less than a type of periods.

The United Nations has characterised the force-feeding of starvation strikers at Guantanamo Bay as torture. The US authorities has denied that the apply quantities to torture, and it has been used towards prisoners over successive administrations throughout starvation strikes.

Mr DeSantis was stationed on the bottom between March 2006 and January 2007, based on his army information.

An investigation by The Impartial particulars the next claims:

  • Two prisoners held on the camp on the time Mr DeSantis was stationed there declare he witnessed the forced-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners.
  • Mr Adayfi claims that Mr DeSantis had initially advised him he was there for the detainees’ welfare. 
  • Mr DeSantis was stationed at Guantanamo throughout a 12 months marked by riots, starvation strikes and dying.
  • A part of his position was to discipline considerations and complaints from prisoners.
  • Mr DeSantis emerged from his time at Guantanamo as an advocate for its continued use, and towards the discharge of detainees

Mr DeSantis has not responded to a number of requests from The Impartial for touch upon the allegations and for readability about his position within the infamous jail camp.

As an assumed candidate for the 2024 election, Mr DeSantis is more likely to face questions on this time in his profession and what impression — if any — witnessing the therapy of Guantanamo detainees has had on his politics.

Till now, he has not spoken intimately about this a part of his profession. In public, he has advocated for the continued use of Guantanamo Bay to carry detainees suspected of involvement of terrorism, however he has not spoken intimately about his time spent on the camp.

‘Bleeding, vomiting and screaming’

Mansoor Adayfi describes it as one of many worst stretches of his 14-year imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay. In 2006, he was within the midst of a starvation strike with a lot of his fellow detainees in protest over the situations contained in the infamous jail. A brand new staff had been introduced in to interrupt the strike with a extra aggressive type of force-feeding. Someday, he recounts with emotion in his voice, he was strapped to a chair within the yard by his head, palms, waist and toes, and a feeding tube was pressured into his nostril. He was bleeding and vomiting and screaming whereas an assortment of uniformed army personnel watched from the aspect.

Mansoor Adayfi spent 14 years as a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay jail camp. He lives in Belgrade, Serbia

(The Washington Submit through Getty Photographs)

Years later, now launched from the camp with out cost and making an attempt to rebuild his life in Serbia, Adayfi got here throughout {a photograph} on-line of somebody he says he recognised from that day. Till then, he says he knew the person as a younger Navy lawyer stationed on the jail, however now he had a reputation: Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.

Adayfi says that very same man had watched the horrible episode unfold from behind a sequence hyperlink fence.

“He was watching, and I used to be actually screaming, crying,” Mr Adayfi, a Yemeni, tells The Impartial in a prolonged video interview from his residence in Belgrade. “I used to be bleeding and throwing up. We have been within the block yard, in order that they have been near the fence.”

Mr DeSantis has spoken sparingly of his time at Guantanamo Bay, the place he served between March 2006 and January 2007 with the US Navy, at 27-years-old, as a decide advocate basic (JAG), a job which entailed offering authorized illustration to army personnel and guaranteeing the US army complied with the regulation. There’s little point out of it in his new guide and he has supplied few particulars of what he did on the marketing campaign path.

However since serving on the controversial army jail, Mr DeSantis has persistently argued for it to stay open, and spoken towards the discharge of prisoners, regardless that most are held for years with out cost.

At a time when Mr DeSantis seems to be getting ready to run for president, the accusations from the previous prisoner might shed new mild on the potential candidate’s army profession. They allege that he witnessed therapy of detainees that the United Nations condemned as torture, and went on to change into a champion of the ability that practised it.

Mansoor Adayfi was held at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years


In 2006, the 12 months Mr DeSantis arrived at Guantanamo, the camp was roiled by starvation strikes, violent riots and protests from prisoners over their situations. Camp officers started to take a extra aggressive tack to convey the starvation strikes to an finish within the early a part of the 12 months.

Mr Adayfi says his first interplay with the younger navy lawyer was memorable. Once they first met, he didn’t know his title — camp employees don’t use their actual names round prisoners for safety causes — however the man he would later come to be taught was Mr DeSantis advised Mr Adayfi that he was there to assist him.

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“I don’t keep in mind precisely when DeSantis got here as a result of we had no watch, no calendar, nothing,” he says. “He got here to speak to us alongside [with] others —  medical employees and interpreters. And we defined to him why we have been on starvation strike. And he advised us, ‘I’m right here to make sure that you get handled humanely and correctly.’ We have been speaking about our issues with the brothers, the torture, the abuses, the no healthcare.”

“This was one thing unusual, as a result of no person advised us that earlier than,” Mr Adayfi provides.

Mr DeSantis was memorable for his look, too.

“He was good-looking with stunning eyes,” he says.

Mr Adayfi remembers that he initially believed Mr DeSantis when he advised him he was there to assist, however he says that shortly modified after he claims he was current for his force-feeding. On the day in query, Mr Adayfi says Mr DeSantis was standing behind a fence within the yard behind the ‘November’ and ‘Oscar’ blocks of Camp Delta, watching him being strapped to the chair and force-fed.

He is aware of about the whole lot — in regards to the starvation strike, the torture, the abuse within the camps. And his job was to make sure that we have been handled humanely

Mansoor Adayfi

“He was there with medical employees, there was different officers, there was some interpreters. There was like a gaggle of them there,” he says.

In his memoir, Don’t Neglect Us Right here, Misplaced and Discovered at Guantánamo, Mr Adayfi describes one incident of force-feeding intimately.

“Guards pushed me into the chair. They tightened the chest harness in order that I couldn’t transfer, then strapped my wrists and legs to the chair. Each level of my physique was tightly restrained — I couldn’t transfer in any respect. One of many male nurses stood in entrance of me holding an extended, thick rubber tube with a metallic tip. One other nurse grabbed my head and held it tightly whereas the male nurse forces that massive tube into my nostril. No numbing spray. No lubricant. Uncooked rubber and metallic sliced the within of my nostril and throat. Ache shot by my sinuses and I believed my head would explode. I screamed and tried to combat however I couldn’t transfer. My nostril bled and bled, however the nurse wouldn’t cease.

“Once they have been finished feeding me, the nurse pulled arduous on the tube and ripped it out of my physique. It felt like a knife coming by my nostril and it bled badly. Blood ran in all places. I couldn’t breathe and my abdomen was so full I believed I’d explode.”

All through prolonged questioning from The Impartial in regards to the finer particulars of his interactions, Mr Adayfi was insistent that the person he knew as a lawyer at Guantanamo was Mr DeSantis. Mr Adayfi’s description of his preliminary interplay with Mr Desantis, for instance, the place he claims the younger lawyer defined his position on the camp, matches the outline given by Mr DeSantis’s superior of his job. The dates of key occasions within the camp throughout 2006 — such because the deaths of three prisoners — match publicly out there info relating to the timeline of Mr DeSantis’s posting.

‘Amounting to torture’

Mr Adayfi characterises the forced-feeding episodes he suffered as torture. That evaluation is supported by quite a few United Nations stories, together with one in 2006 which mentioned of the apply at Guantanamo: “[t]he extreme violence utilized in many circumstances throughout transportation, in operations by the Preliminary Response Forces and force-feeding of detainees on starvation strike have to be assessed as amounting to torture as outlined in article 1 of the Conference towards Torture.”

The World Medical Affiliation mentioned in 2006 that the force-feeding of starvation strikers “constitutes a type of inhuman and degrading therapy”.

The US authorities, over a number of administrations, has defended the apply and persistently denied that it quantities to torture. In a lawsuit introduced by 4 detainees in 2013, authorities legal professionals mentioned of the apply: “It’s the coverage of the Division of Protection to help the preservation of life and well being by acceptable scientific means and customary medical intervention, in a humane method, and in accordance with all relevant requirements.”

Barack Obama, who as a candidate promised to shut the jail at Guantanamo, however defended force-feeding there when he was president, replying to a query about by saying: “I don’t need these people to die.”

A US Navy physician shows a restraint chair within the detainee clinic within the ‘Gitmo’ most safety detention heart on the US Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba


After Mr Adayfi says he noticed Mr DeSantis at one in all these force-feeding incidents, he didn’t speak to him once more.

“At the moment, I don’t wish to see his face. However different prisoners, they talked to him. Among the prisoners splashed him with feces and urine and spit on him,” he says.

Mr Adayfi was launched from the jail camp in 2016 with no prices. He stored in contact with different former detainees unfold the world over in numerous places and began to attempt to rebuild his life. Then in the future, in 2020, he noticed {a photograph} of Mr DeSantis on-line.

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He says he shared the picture with another launched former detainees, who additionally recognised him. He additionally shared the picture together with his guide editor on the time, Antonio Aiello. When contacted by The Impartial, Aiello confirmed this account and says he had a number of discussions with Mr Adayfi about Mr DeSantis going again roughly two years.

Mr Adayfi first made the claims publicly in November 2022, on the Eye’s Left podcast. That account of Mr DeSantis’s presence throughout force-feeding matches the one he gave to The Impartial.

However Mr Adayfi isn’t the one former detainee who says that they recognised Mr DeSantis from their time on the jail camp.

Ahmed Abdel Aziz, a former prisoner who was launched after 13 years with out being charged with a criminal offense and is presently again at residence in Mauritania, additionally claims that Mr DeSantis witnessed the force-feeding at Guantanamo.

Though he didn’t participate within the starvation strike himself, Mr Aziz tells The Impartial that he witnessed “dozens” of force-feeding periods in 2006 himself, and it was not unusual for giant teams of camp employees to look at them from the aspect.

“Generally a giant bunch of individuals will come, generally two or three, generally the medical employees would come alone with the guards. Amongst them was this man,” he says, referring to Mr DeSantis.

“He was not there on a regular basis,” he says. “He was watching. He can not cease it, he doesn’t have the authority, however he might stand towards that or write to his higher-ups, to Washington, to different departments and inform them what’s happening.”

Like Mr Adayfi, Mr Aziz says doesn’t keep in mind precisely when he realised the lawyer he knew from Guantanamo was DeSantis, however he dates it roughly to some years in the past, when one in all his mates despatched him an image.

”As quickly as I noticed his image I do know him very nicely as a result of he spent a very long time there, possibly six months or eight months,” he says. “The general public in there, as soon as we see them, we don’t neglect them,” he provides.

Mr Adayfi says most of the force-feeding incidents passed off exterior the Oscar and November blocks of Delta Camp.

(Impartial )

Mr Adayfi says he believes the American folks ought to know that Mr DeSantis — now a nationwide political determine on the cusp of declaring a run for the White Home — was conscious of, and noticed what he endured at Guantanamo.

“I’m not making an attempt to say DeSantis was giving orders to the force-feeding. I didn’t see him giving orders to the guards, and I don’t assume he was ready to offer orders to the guards. However he was there watching. He is aware of about the whole lot — in regards to the starvation strike, the torture, the abuse within the camps. And his job was to make sure that we have been handled humanely,” he says.

Mr DeSantis’s army information present that he had duties at Guantanamo Bay Naval base between 1 March 2006 and 31 January 2007.  His duties are listed as “Trial Counsel, Command Providers Lawyer,” in addition to JTF-GTMO scheduler/administrative Officer.”

Retired Navy Captain Patrick McCarthy, who served as employees decide advocate on the detention facility and supervised Mr DeSantis, mentioned in a 2018 interview that his duties required interacting with detainees and listening to their complaints.

“If any complaints have been raised, Ron would have been among the many people I despatched down to speak to the detainees,” McCarthy advised the Miami Herald. He mentioned in the identical interview that Mr DeSantis would have made certain the complaints “have been addressed in a manner that was in line with the regulation”.

In his lately launched guide, The Braveness to be Free, Mr DeSantis wrote that a part of the rationale he enlisted within the army in 2004 was in order that he may be capable of participate in prosecutions on the camp.

“One recruiter advised me that the belief was that the Iraq marketing campaign could be over comparatively shortly, and that there could be a necessity for army [judge advocate general’s] to steer prosecutions in army commissions of incarcerated terrorists at Guantánamo Bay,” he wrote. “That turned out to not be what occurred, however it appeared believable on the time and in addition appeared like an excellent alternative to make an impression.”

(Slavoljub Milanović)

On the time, allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees on the camp have been rife. The Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross, which had performed visits to the camp since 2002, wrote to the US authorities in June 2004 to decry the system of interrogation there as “an intentional system of merciless, uncommon and degrading therapy and a type of torture”. The report, which grew to become public in November of that 12 months, alleged “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of pressured positions”, in addition to publicity to persistent loud noise and music and “some beatings”.

Using torture at Guantanamo Bay — euphemistically known as “enhanced interrogation” by the Bush administration — was authorised by defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be used as early as 2002. These strategies included “hooding, stress positions, isolation, stripping, deprivation of sunshine, removing of spiritual gadgets, pressured grooming, and use of canines”, based on a 2005 Human Rights Watch report.

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The chaotic state of affairs on the camp continued all year long. On 10 June 2006, three prisoners died in a single night time. The US army decided that Yassar Talal al-Zahrani, Mani Shaman Turki Al Habardi al-Tabi, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed, all died by hanging, however researchers claimed the investigations into their deaths “failed to evolve to minimal requirements”.

Enemy combatants

As of February 2006, the month earlier than Mr DeSantis arrived, the US authorities held greater than 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as alleged “enemy combatants”. Mr Adayfi was one in all them.

Born in a small village in Yemen, he was simply 18 when he went to Afghanistan in 2001 to conduct what he says was a analysis mission into Al Qaeda on behalf of a sheikh at an Islamic institute exterior of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. Based on his account, detailed in his guide, Mr Adayfi was captured by Afghan warlords and handed over to the CIA at a time the intelligence service was providing rewards He then says he was taken to a CIA black website, the place he was tortured.

Based on a Division of Protection file on Mr Adayfi that referred to as for his continued detention in Guantanamo, dated 2008, the US authorities described Mr Adayfi as “an admitted member of al-Qaida who possessed prior data of the 11 September 2001 assaults in addition to different deliberate assaults towards US pursuits”, and in addition claims that he was “recognized as a commander of evacuating entrance line forces assessed to be Usama Bin Laden’s (UBL) fifty fifth Arab Brigade throughout hostilities towards US and Coalition forces”.

Mr Adayfi says he repeatedly denied the interrogator’s accusations that he was a member of Al Qaeda, however says he later gave a false confession in anger at his ill-treatment.

“I used to be offended. I used to be damage. I mentioned issues that I didn’t imply, however I used to be in a deep, darkish gap,” he recalled in his memoir. “I wished to show them that they couldn’t kill and torture us and anticipate us to like them for it.”

Earlier than his launch, the US authorities additionally amended its evaluation of Mr Adayfi, saying in a declassified report that it was “unclear whether or not he really joined” Al Qaeda and was “in all probability … a low-level fighter”.

Mr Adayfi’s sister and brother died through the 14 years he was held at Guantanamo. He emerged from the jail he entered at 19 years outdated a distinct individual. He says he nonetheless suffers from the impression of the time he spent at Guantanamo, and the force-feeding was only one a part of it.

“They completely destroyed our life. The interrogations, sexual assault, the beatings, the long-term confinement, psychological, psychological, bodily abuse, simply title it,” he mentioned of his therapy on the jail camp and in CIA custody earlier than his arrival.

“They broke our lives, and we nonetheless battle to dwell now,” he provides.

Ron DeSantis talking at a rally in Hialeah, Florida in November


When requested how he feels about Mr DeSantis at present, Mr Adayfi says he has no ill-will in direction of him, however doesn’t consider he needs to be president.

“He’s a nasty individual, . I like America, and such folks, once they come to energy, they create a variety of issues.”

“I’ve no hate towards him. However on the identical time, as a lawyer, as somebody who’s a graduate of regulation and believes within the regulation, he ought to have identified higher,” he says.

“I’d ask him why would he wish to hold Guantanamo open. As a lawyer, there needs to be a presumption of innocence, not guilt. In case you love your nation, for those who love your folks, for those who consider in American values, you ought to be the primary one who referred to as for the closure of Guantanamo. And for those who assume we’re prison terrorists, okay, take us and check out us earlier than your justice system.”

Following his time at Guantanamo, Mr DeSantis went on to function a JAG in Iraq. Later, he grew to become a congressman for Florida’s sixth congressional district, at which period then-president Barack Obama had proposed closing the jail by government order. DeSantis spoke out quite a few instances towards the concept.

At a congressional listening to chaired by Mr DeSantis in 2016, the then-congressman forcefully argued for Guantanamo to stay open.

“The President’s conclusion that the detention facility needs to be closed relies partly on his concept that the ability is a recruiting device for Islamic jihadists, however this represents a misunderstanding of the character of the terrorist threats we face.,” he mentioned. “These will not be the kind of folks that may abandon their jihad towards America and our allies just because we shut Guantanamo Bay,” he advised the Home of Representatives Subcommittee of Nationwide Safety, a part of the Committee on Oversight and Authorities Reform.

In the identical session, he spoke briefly of his time there.

“After I was within the Navy I used to be there for a time and it’s a very professionally run facility. Anyone on this room would fairly spend an evening there than in just like the Fallujah jail or one thing like this. I imply, it’s simply night time and day. And the folks which might be guarding that facility are underneath an terrible lot of stress as a result of these detainees are very hostile to them, and so they know that in the event that they do something that they’re hastily going to be topic to—so it’s a very tense surroundings for our uniformed personnel who’re there,” he mentioned.

In a marketing campaign advert for his profitable 2018 run for governor, photographs of Mr DeSantis in his navy uniform are proven as a narrator described him as a “JAG officer who handled terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.”

Ron DeSantis’s workplace didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.


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