TAIZ, Yemen, AP -The father of a Yemeni inmate recently found dead at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba rejected on Wednesday the U.S. military’s claims that his son committed suicide and accused the prison authorities of killing him.
“They (the Americans) lied and then they lied some more. My son is a religious man and a devout Muslim. There is no way he could have killed himself. They killed him,” Mohammed Abdullah al-Aslami told The Associated Press at his home south of the Yemeni capital San’a.
Al-Aslami’s son, Ali Abdullah Ahmed, and two Saudi inmates, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habradi al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, were found dead in their cells early Saturday.
U.S. military officials said all three inmates committed suicide by hanging themselves, using sheets and clothes as nooses.
The three suicides were the first detainee deaths at Guantanamo — where the U.S. holds about 460 men on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban — and the military said they have prompted a complete review of operations at the detention center.
News of the deaths sparked renewed criticism of the U.S. prison that has been plagued with reports of abuse and other human rights violations in the more than four years since it opened. There were renewed calls from around the world for its closure.
Venting his anger at President Bush, al-Aslami said the White House was the home of “murderous hypocrites.”
Hours later, Bush was asked about the three suicides at a news conference.
“I’d like to close Guantanamo,” Bush replied, “I also recognize that we’re holding some people that are darn dangerous.
“Eventually, these people will have trials and they will have counsel.”
Al-Aslami urged his government to press the Bush administration to close the prison.
“The Yemeni government must show some respect to its people and talk to the Americans about the treatment of our sons in this ugly prison. It must be closed down immediately. It is a place where Muslims are routinely tortured,” al-Aslami said.
But an Afghan delegation that visited Guantanamo said the conditions were “humane.”
Abdul Jabar Sabhet of the Afghan Interior Ministry said he and his delegation were permitted to speak freely with all 96 Afghan prisoners, and there were “only one or two” complaints.
“Conditions of the jail were humane. There were rumors in this country about that. It was wrong. What we have seen was OK,” he said in Kabul.
In Saudi Arabia, the state-funded Saudi National Human Rights Group blamed the U.S. authorities for the deaths, and cast doubt on their being cases of suicide. The Saudi government called for the speedy release of all Saudis at the prison.
The U.N. human rights agency has said the suicides could have been anticipated and the focus should now be on closing the prison.
The European Parliament reiterated that the prison should be closed.
The United States is detaining about 460 men at Guantanamo on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. They include 136 Saudis and 107 Yemenis.