August 14, 2003

Russian Mothers Plead for Sons to Stay in Guantanamo

More on the Russians who want to stay in Guantanamo to avoid being extradited to Russia:

The mothers of the eight Russians held with other prisoners from Afghanistan at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay have begged Washington not to extradite their sons to answer terror charges in Russia, fearing that conditions in their jails and judicial system are even worse than those at Camp Delta.
"In Guantanamo they treat him humanely and the conditions are fine," Amina Khasanova, the mother of Andrei Bakhitov, told the newspaper Gazeta. "I am terribly scared for my son in a Russian prison or court system."

She said her son wrote to her that conditions were so good in Camp Delta in Cuba that "there is no health resort in Russia that can compare".

Camp Delta has been criticised by human rights groups for the "torturous" conditions under which inmates are held awaiting trial by a special military tribunal.

They are held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and occasionally subjected to "sensory deprivation techniques" involving goggles, gloves and mufflers which impede their senses. Lights are left on in cells during the night.

There have been 28 suicide attempts among the 612 prisoners at the facility.

Russian jails, where inmates may be held 20 to a cell, tuberculosis is rampant and hygiene minimal, have been condemned as "deadly".

Although the death penalty has been abolished in Russia, Muslim prisoners held on "terrorism" charges may be persecuted by fellow prisoners and prison staff angered by the terrorist attacks on civilians by Chechen rebels.