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    Habib may have been tortured By Sandra O Malley and Paul Osborne AAP February 14, 2005 http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,12240491-2,00.html ... photo:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 14, 2005
      Habib 'may have been tortured'
      By Sandra O'Malley and Paul Osborne
      February 14, 2005

      Emotional ... Mamdouh Habib on 60 Minutes last night.

      FORMER Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib may have been abused in
      Egypt and a second US investigation might find evidence of
      maltreatment in Cuba, the Federal Government said today.

      In a paid interview on the Channel 9's 60 Minutes program last
      night, Mr Habib detailed a systematic regime of mental and physical

      He also claimed an Australian official in Pakistan stood by and
      watched as he was tortured.

      The Australian Government denies the allegation.

      Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has conceded Mr Habib may have
      been abused in Egypt, and does not rule out a second American
      investigation finding evidence of ill-treatment at the US military
      base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      "For all I know he may have been badly treated in Egypt, but we
      don't know because the Egyptians have still not conceded to us that
      they held him," Mr Downer said.

      In December, Mr Downer said a preliminary US investigation found
      neither Mr Habib nor fellow Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks had
      been tortured in Cuba.

      "They've (US authorities) done one full investigation and they're in
      the process of completing a second investigation. Nothing's turned
      up so far," Mr Downer said today.

      "Look, it might be in the next few weeks something will turn up."

      The Government plans to hand a tape of Mr Habib's interview to the
      US to help with investigations.

      The Government meanwhile continued to deny Mr Habib would be
      eligible for compensation from Australia for his alleged

      Mr Habib was admitted to hospital with chest pains last night after
      the interview went to air, Nine reported.

      Attorney-General Philip Ruddock distanced the Government from
      knowledge about why the US failed to pursue its case against Mr
      Habib, amid claims military evidence may have been tainted due to
      how it was obtained.

      He acknowledged judicial proceedings could fail if evidence had been
      obtained by torture.

      "It is highly unlikely that any evidence obtained by torture would
      be seen as having sufficient probative value to be useful," Mr
      Ruddock said.

      Mr Ruddock also said Australian officials who visited Mr Habib in
      Pakistan denied they had been witness to any interrogations when
      torture was applied.

      Mr Ruddock told ABC TV officers from spy agency ASIO and the
      Australian Federal Police had questioned Mr Habib in Pakistan but
      had not been involved in the administration of any torture or duress.

      "I haven't personally interviewed the officers but I am informed by
      those who report to me that they have been asked whether or not in
      their presence any torture occurred and they have said they did not
      witness the application of any torture to Mr Habib at the times they
      were there," Mr Ruddock said.

      Asked if it were not possible that the officers had kept the
      information from their superiors, Mr Ruddock said: "I think it's
      highly unlikely when you have a number of officers in that position
      they would all be complicit in behaviour of the sort you are

      Mr Habib returned to Australia last month after more than three
      years in detention in Guantanamo Bay, Egypt and Pakistan.

      The US eventually released him without charge, but Mr Habib remains
      a person of interest to Australian authorities, who are concerned
      about his alleged links to al-Qaeda.

      Despite concerns by spy agency ASIO that Mr Habib is a security
      risk, Mr Ruddock said on current evidence he could not be charged
      under Australian law.

      Mr Habib has threatened to sue the Government for failing to protect

      Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, Robert Cornall, told
      a Senate estimates hearing that he had written to Mr Habib's lawyer
      Stephen Hopper asking for details of his client's allegations, and
      further details surrounding events leading up to his capture in
      October 2001.

      Mr Cornall said the Government needed those details to determine
      whether it was liable for compensation or legal aid.

      Mr Habib has refused to answer questions on whether he travelled to
      Afghanistan and what he may have been doing there before his arrest.

      Mr Habib has defended his decision not to reveal crucial details
      surrounding his presence in Afghanistan around the time of the
      September 11, 2001 attacks.

      "I want a judge to stand up and say Mr Habib is innocent, and I'm
      going to give him the proof," Mr Habib told Nine.

      Mr Hopper said there were legal reasons behind Mr Habib's reluctance
      to speak about his whereabouts.

      "We're building up a potential legal case," he said.

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