Source: The News Online,10117,19446406-2,00.html

June 14, 2006

From: AAP

AUSTRALIAN terrorist suspect David Hicks has suffered untold psychological damage at Guantanamo Bay, which may take the rest of his life to get over, a US security expert says.

Three recent suicides at Guantanamo Bay have intensified calls for the military prison to be closed.

Alfred McCoy, an expert on torture techniques by he US Central Intelligence Agency, said Guantanamo Bay was not a conventional military prison.

"It's an ad hoc laboratory for the perfection of CIA psychological torture," he said.

"It's designed to break down every detainee confined there."

He claims that among the sensory deprivation techniques being used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay was sound and light blasting, being confined in the dark and shackling.

Professor McCoy disputed Australian government claims that Hicks was fit and well.

"David Hicks has suffered untold psychological damage that will take a great deal of care, a great deal of treatment and probably the rest of his life to move beyond," he said.

"To say that David Hicks has not been tortured, to say that David Hicks is only suffering from a sore back ... I think that just flies in the face of fact.

"It represents an ignorance of what torture is, particularly what psychological torture is."

Prof McCoy said Hicks was kept in extreme solitary confinement for 244 days.

"A dark cell, denied any sunlight, denied any emotional support, his contact limited to once a week visits with his military chaplain," he said.

"That's an extreme form of sensory disorientation, that leads to tremendous psychological damage."

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday said he was satisfied Hicks was not depressive or a suicide risk and that his only health complaint was a bad back.

Mr Downer also disputed suggestions Hicks was in solitary confinement at the Cuban prison.

While Guantanamo Bay was a maximum-security facility, it was no worse than facilities on the US mainland, he said.

Hicks has been held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba since shortly after he was captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Government says consular officials have found Hicks fit and well but his US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, believes he is in poor health, showing weight loss and continuing signs of depression.

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