Spanish police interrogated Guantanamo prisoners

Ex-President Aznar sent police to interrogate Guantanamo 20 detainees

According to official sources José María Aznar’s government sent police, without any prior judicial authorization, to interrogate around 20 detainees in Guantanamo in July 2002.

Apparently this was the second trip that Spanish officials had made to the US military base in Cuba. On the first trip to Guantanamo, officials from the Spanish embassy in Washington went there to identify possible Spanish detainees.

The second trip took place in July 2002 when police travelled to Guantanamo, accompanied by members of the CIA, to interrogate 20 of the detainees, most of which were Moroccan. Amongst those interrogated were Hamed Abderramán from Ceuta and Lahcen Ikassrien, a Morrocan resident in Spain and detained in 2001 in Afganistan who was sent to Guantanamo wearing a wrist band that read “animal number 64”.

Ikassrien, in an interview with the Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, said that he told the Spanish police in Guantanamo that he was a Moroccan citizen and that they had no right to interrogate him.

He also says that the police offered him money and said that he would become a protected witness if he cooperated with them. Ikassrien, also said that they showed him photographs of radical Moroccans like Amer el Azizi and Jamal Zougam, a presumed member of the group responsible for the March 11th bombings in Madrid, and of another person who was later detained and imprisoned following the bomb in Casablanca.

Ikassrien, who now lives freely in Madrid, was extradited to Spain where the High Court absolved him of all charges. None of the testimonies obtained in Guantanamo were accepted as evidence.

A third journey was made to Guantanamo in January 2003 when officials from the Spanish embassy in Washington visited the Spanish citizen Hamed Abderrahaman Ahmed in order to negotiate his handover to the Spanish authorities.

The Spanish High Court has stated that the police interrogations in Guantanamo took place without the proper legal safeguards and without any respect for the rights of those being interrogated. It has also said that the detention of hundreds of prisoners who have not been charged and who do not have any guarantees for their rights in a place where there is no control over what happens to them is a situation that is impossible to justify or explain from the point of view of the judiciary.

The Spanish police interrogations in Guantanamo have been revealed just before the trial of people suspected of participating in the Madrid bombings is due to start this week.