Five former Guantanamo Bay prisoners are seeking damages from the US government for what they say were years of sexual, mental and physical abuse at the American prison.
The men, who are from Turkey, Uzbekistan and Algeria, filed the complaints in a US appeals court on Friday, alleging that they were subjected to forced nudity, sexual harassment and physical beatings, first in Afghanistan and then at Guantanamo.
Judge David Tatel, one of the justices hearing the case, said that Pentagon officials had failed in their duty. "Their job is to protect the detainees from abuse, they failed to do so."
Russell Cohen, the lawyer representing the complainants, said in the appeal, "From their earliest interactions with US soldiers and interrogators, Mr. Celikgogus, Mr. Sen, Mr. Mert, Mr. Hasam and Mr. Muhammad were subjected to physical, mental and religious abuse carried out by US soldiers and/or civilians who were under the command authority of officials in the Department of Defense."
He also said that three of the men were held for two extra years at Guantanamo after they had been cleared, and continue to “suffer the physical and mental effects of their detention, abuse and torture."
Cohen stated in the appeal that the plaintiffs were “subjected to various forms of religious and cultural abuse,” including the confiscation of their copies of the Holy Quran.
If the men succeed in their legal battle, they would be one of the few to receive compensations.
Washington says the claims do not come under US or international law because the former inmates are not American citizens.
"Plaintiffs have no constitutional rights as they are non-resident aliens located outside United States sovereign territory," the US government said in a statement.