US soldiers torture Afghan journalist at Bagram


This video from the USA is called Unfair Trials for Afghans Released from Guantanamo, Bagram.

From The Globe and Mail in Canada:

THE AFGHAN MISSION: ‘IT WAS LIKE A GRAVE’

U.S. frees Afghan fixer after 10-month detention he describes as ‘hell’

GRAEME SMITH

September 22, 2008

KABUL — In the U.S. military cells where he saw daylight only once a week, where he says they broke his ribs with beatings, his captors gave him a nickname: “the Canadian reporter.”

His formal designation was a detainee number: 3370. Last night, after almost a year in custody, the 22-year-old settled into a king-sized bed at the best hotel in Kabul with a big smile and started to regain his true names: Javed Yazamy, the name on his business card, or Jawed Ahmad, as he’s known to friends. Most importantly, he wants to rebuild his career and the working name that made him famous among Canadian journalists: Jojo, a name synonymous with some of the best coverage of breaking stories during his time as cameraman for CTV News in Kandahar.

It’s not clear why U.S. authorities let Mr. Ahmad walk free yesterday.

No explanations are usually given to detainees who are released. Mr. Ahmad was publicly named an “enemy combatant” by the U.S. military in February, but unlike most such prisoners, his case was watched closely by lawyers, journalists and diplomats.

The campaign for his release started almost immediately after U.S. forces took him into custody in late October of last year, and his fate had recently been publicized by human-rights lawyers using the example of his detention to challenge what they called a “legal black hole” at the sprawling U.S. prison in Bagram.

Mr. Ahmad says his U.S. guards told him many people were lobbying on his behalf, and he credits the pressure with finally winning his freedom. But he still seemed bewildered by his sudden good fortune as he plunged a fork into a moist chunk of chocolate cake and reflected on his recent hardships.

“I came from hell,” he said. “Now I’m back.”

Mr. Ahmad’s bright career as a journalist, and his terrible fall into the darkest part of the foreign military system in Afghanistan, started with a humble beginning. He took a job as a tailor at the age of 12, earning about 75 cents a day to cover the costs of his schooling. He also became captain of a soccer team, and his excellent language skills and physical fitness made him an ideal candidate when the U.S. Special Forces arrived in southern Afghanistan looking for translators.

But his journalistic endeavours may have contributed to his eventual imprisonment, Mr. Ahmad said, because much later his U.S. interrogators seemed interested in his forays into Taliban territory.

“Those people were not my friends,” he said, referring to the insurgents. “But they knew I was a good, honest reporter, and every media outlet was starving for Taliban video.”

About halfway through 2007, he started having problems getting through the gate at Kandahar Air Field, the main military base in the province.

He was once briefly detained and given a warning to stay away. He avoided the military base for a while, but returned Oct. 2, 2007, to help a 12-year-old boy shot by Canadian troops. After leaving the base hospital, a U.S. Special Forces soldier put a gun to his head and threatened him, telling him to stay away from the military base.

He again obeyed the warning, he says, until late October when he says he received a phone call from a male caller who described himself as a U.S. public-affairs officer who wanted to conduct an opinion survey of Afghan journalists. Mr. Ahmad agreed to meet the officer at KAF’s main gate. A red pickup truck arrived, he said, and the driver asked him to climb inside.

They drove into the U.S. Special Forces compound at KAF, he said, and soon events started unfolding like a movie. …

“I had seen that film, Road to Guantanamo, and the same things were happening to me,” he said.

His hands were bound with plastic ties, and he was hooded with a heavy bag. In the following days, he says, he was questioned, taunted, screamed at, beaten with chairs and slammed into walls.

“I was crying,” he said. “They were laughing, saying ‘You’re a spy,’ ” His captors accused him of spying for Iran,

where the Shiite government hates the Taliban

Pakistan

George W. Bush’s ally, certainly then under dictator Musharraf. Where the hell is the logic in those torture prisons?

or the Taliban.

They said he sold a sniper rifle to the insurgents. Interrogators falsely told him his family had been arrested and confessed. They even concocted wild stories about his Canadian employers, telling him that CTV had arranged for his detention – or, on another occasion, that a CTV reporter was a foreign intelligence agent.

“I knew these were lies,” Mr. Ahmad said.

The worst treatment he received at KAF was sleep deprivation, he said.

Placed in a small metal cage, and monitored by soldiers on a boardwalk overhead, he said they refused to let him sleep for nine days, frequently shouting abuse at him during the ordeal.

After the initial questioning he was flown to Bagram airbase north of Kabul, he said.

Still badly sleep-deprived, he was unloaded at the U.S. base and forced to stand for six hours in the snow wearing only a thin jumpsuit – no shoes, no hat – and he fell unconscious twice. Each time the guards forced him to stand up again.

“It felt like I had no skin left on my feet,” he said.

He tried to endear himself to his guards, who were amused to find a prisoner who enjoyed reading Shakespeare. But his situation got abruptly worse in early 2008, he says, when the stories began appearing in the media about his situation. Soon afterward, he was formally declared an enemy combatant. He was placed in a room he describes as the “death cell.”

Telling the story, his eyes brim with tears when he thinks about his treatment there, and says he doesn’t want to discuss all of it now.

He was deprived of sunlight, he said. “It was like a grave.” The interrogations continued at Bagram, he said, and no less violently than in Kandahar.

“They broke two of my ribs during the beatings. Four days I couldn’t eat because of this,” he said.

He received hints on Friday that he would be released, and yesterday he was abruptly transferred to local Afghan authorities and then onward to the Red Cross.

See also here.

14 thoughts on “US soldiers torture Afghan journalist at Bagram

  1. Afghan officials in drug trafficking: Moscow

    Vladimir Radyuhin

    MOSCOW: Russia’s anti-narcotics chief said top Afghan officials are involved in drug trafficking even as NATO is sabotaging efforts to fight the threat from Afghanistan.

    Russian security services have information about some 40 high-ranking Afghan officials, including minister-level figures and law enforcement officers, who engage in drug trafficking, said Russia’s Narcotics Control Service chief Viktor Ivanov.

    “Russia has proposed drawing up an international black list of drug dealers along the lines of the U.N. black list of terrorist organisations, but the U.S. has turned down the proposal,” Mr. Ivanov told a press conference on Tuesday.

    Mr. Ivanov was one of the most influential Kremlin officials till May, when the former President, Vladimir Putin, became Russia’s Prime Minister.

    NATO has also rejected Moscow’s proposal to task NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan with combating the drug menace.

    At its summit in Dushanbe last month the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation called for expanding the ISAF mandate to include the fight against drugs production and trafficking, but the proposal “went unheeded,” Mr. Ivanov told a news conference on Tuesday.

    The Russian drug control chief said the U.S. was also torpedoing an agreement between Russia and NATO for the training of Afghan narcotics police in Russia.

    Moscow has set aside €4,00,000 for the programme, but no Afghan officers have turned up for training in the past six months, said Mr. Ivanov.

    http://www.hindu.com/2008/09/24/stories/2008092455831600.htm

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  2. Canadian Forces blamed for Afghan’s year in jail
    They told Americans ‘He’s a threat,’ says journalist working for CTV

    TOM BLACKWELL, Canwest News Service

    Published: Thursday, September 25

    An Afghan journalist who was freed this week after almost a year in a U.S. jail on undefined terrorism allegations said yesterday that his hellish ordeal was as much the fault of Canadian Forces as those of the United States.

    Citing comments from his U.S. captors, Jawed Yazamy said he believes it was Canada that tipped off U.S. troops to arrest him in October 2007 while he was working for CTV News as a translator and reporter.

    Alleging he was beaten and otherwise mistreated, he said he’s determined to win justice and compensation from the Canadian and U.S. governments.

    “They (Canadians) informed the Americans: ‘He’s a threat.’… I don’t know why they did it,” Yazamy said. “I will fight for justice from Canada till my last breath. What happened to me was unbelievable.”

    His allegations receive some backing from an affidavit – obtained by Canwest News Service yesterday – filed by a colleague at CTV, Steve Chao, a veteran correspondent,who described how Canadian soldiers voiced suspicions about the young journalist more than a year ago, and how U.S. troops once held the two of them at gunpoint, threatening to shoot them on the spot.

    Known by many westerners here simply as “JoJo,” Yazamy is one of the most dogged Afghan journalists who work for Canadian news organizations as “fixers,” performing both translation and actual reporting.

    He often interviewed Taliban representatives, a practice he says may have raised the suspicion of the foreign troops. Having earlier worked for U.S. Special Forces as an interpreter, he was also one of the few fixers allowed to enter Kandahar Air Field, and one of the rare Afghans of any sort seen to be walking freely through the huge NATO base.

    Yazamy was scooped up by U.S. forces last October with little explanation, other than he was accused of being an “enemy combatant,” then released on Sunday with equally little fanfare.

    Yazamy said he was kicked, forced to stand in the snow with bare feet for six hours, and deprived of sleep for nine days. His allegations have not been independently confirmed.

    A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition has said Yazamy had access to the Red Cross, enjoyed regular medical treatment and never complained of abuse.

    The journalist said both the U.S. soldiers who first arrested him and his interrogators at Bagram both told him it was Canadians who warned he might be a security risk.

    Despite everything, Yazamy said he harbours no ill feelings toward Canada, and wants to visit the country some time soon.

    “Canada is the best country. I love Canada, I love Canadian people,” he said. “I still believe that the way Canadians work in Afghanistan is better than any other country.”

    © The Gazette (Montreal) 2008

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  3. PESHAWAR: Over 150 children held in Kabul prisons: British journalist

    Bureau Report

    PESHAWAR, Nov 5: Yvonne Ridley, a journalist turned human rights activist, claimed that over 150 children, ‘sold out’ by the previous Pakistani regime, have been languishing in different prisons manned by the US marines in Afghanistan.

    Ms Ridley, who embraced Islam after spending some weeks in a Kabul prison during the Taliban tenure and renamed as Mariam, was the first who revealed the presence of Dr Aafia Siddiqui in a US-manned prison in Kabul. Still wearing a tag inscribed with figure 650, number of a woman prisoner detained somewhere in a prison in Afghainstan.

    Speaking at a function organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS), a think-tank of Jamaat-i-Islami, here at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday, she alleged that Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf’s regime had handed over scores of children, women and men to the US secret agencies against millions of dollars to prolong his dictatorship in the name of the so-called war on terror.

    She said the US President George W Bush had been terrorising his own people in the name of 9/11 for the last seven years. She said the 9/11 had become a ploy in the hands of US administration to intimidate and frighten the American public, which did not know what had happened to the poor people of Afghanistan after the destruction of twin towers in their country.

    She said Taliban had treated her like their sister during her detention in 2001 in Kabul. It was, she said, a great moment in her life which changed her entire life. She said she could not think of such a treatment in an US prison, where women were strip-searched by the security men.

    She said the American had repeatedly abused Dr Aafia Siddiqui during her detention in Bagram airbase in Kabul. She said Pakistani secret agencies had handed over Dr Siddiqui and her three children to the FBI, which transported them to Kabul.

    She said in March 2003, Pentagon had admitted that Dr Siddiqui along with her children was in the custody of its marines in Bagram airbase. But, she said, they didn’t release her.

    She also showed the image of frail Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who according to her had been shot three times in Kabul by the US marines. She said that the US government had concocted a fake case against Dr Siddiqui in Afghanistan, but was trying her in New York under the American law, which was a mockery of human rights and rule of law.

    She said she would fight for the rights of the missing children, women and men, who were actually detained somewhere in Afghanistan or any part of the world. She asked the Jamaat-i-Islami leaders to locate the missing children, who had developed some sort of psychological problems and rehabilitate them.

    She denied that the historic victory of Barak Obama in US presidential election may trigger any kind of racial riots. She said: “Only 20 per cent US citizens carry passports. They have nothing to do with international affairs”.

    http://www.dawn.com/2008/11/06/local26.htm

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  4. Tue, March 10, 2009

    Javed Yazamy, Afghan fixer and freelance journalist, slain in Kandahar
    UPDATED: 2009-03-10 11:00:55 MST

    By THE CANADIAN PRESS

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Javed Yazamy, an Afghan freelance cameraman, reporter and “fixer” for media outlets covering Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan, has been killed in a shooting in Kandahar city.

    Yazamy — also known as Javed Ahmad but known to most by his nickname, Jojo — was in his vehicle today when another car pulled alongside and a gunman opened fire.

    Yazamy worked primarily as a cameraman for CTV News, but was often hired on a day-to-day basis by other media organizations as well, including The Canadian Press.

    Indeed, the 23-year-old routinely proved to be an asset to virtually every Canadian journalist who worked in the violence-racked country.

    His extensive contacts and connections across Afghanistan, including with the Taliban, appeared to land him in trouble late in 2007 when he was abruptly detained by U.S. special forces.

    Yazamy spent some 11 months in military custody and was publicly named as an “enemy combatant” by American forces before he was abruptly set free in September 2008.

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