Deportees: CIA behind torture interrogations
Published: 05 Oct 2011 16:51 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Oct 2011 16:51 GMT+02:00
Two Egyptians who were forcibly deported to Egypt from Sweden by CIA agents in 2001 have blamed the US spy agency for the torture they received in their home country.
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Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed Al Zery were handed over to the CIA by Swedish security service agents as part of a so called terror suspect “rendition” operation carried out by the US spy agency.
For the first time, the two men have been able to share their story with the public.
In an interview on the Swedish investigative journalsim program Uppdrag Granskning, which airs on Sveriges Television (SVT) on Wednesday night, they tell their story of what happened when they were deported from Sweden.
"For a long time I have wanted people, especially Swedes, to know the whole truth," Mohammed Al Zery told SVT.
According to Al Zery and Agiza, they were taken to Bromma Airport, a small airport near Stockholm, after being arrested by agents from Swedish security service Säpo and informed of the deportation.
At the airport, an American plane with seven CIA agents and two people from the Egyptian security service were waiting for them as they were escorted by Säpo officers.
The nine people from the plane were dressed in civilian clothing and were all masked.
Al Zery and Agiza were taken into the small police station at Bromma airport where their clothes were cut off them, their hands and feet were chained, and they were blindfolded before they were taken onto the waiting plane.
”They threw me down on the floor and pressed their knees in my back. They tore all our clothes off and put a diaper, a blindfold and transportation clothes on us,” Agiza said in the interview.
All the while, the Säpo officers, as well as conventional police officers, stood by and witnessed what the men described as excessively violent treatment.
”I was surprised and shocked. I had a positive image of Sweden, of Swedish politics and democracy,” Agiza told SVT.
A Säpo officer was told there was no room for her on the plane. Instead a Swedish police officer and an interpreter from Säpo were allowed on board.
Both men were treated unkindly by the guards during the transport down to Egypt.
Muscle relaxant given to the two Egyptians prior to the journey made it difficult for them to breathe, but when they tried to speak to the guards they received harsh reponses.
”The guard thought that I was lifting up my blindfold to see him, so he started punching me in the face,” said Al Zery to SVT.
Once the two men had arrived in Egypt they were isolated from each other for months, despite being kept only a few metres apart.
Both were kept in solitary confinement with their eyes covered at all times. The only objects in the cells were a cement slab, a water bottle, and a bottle to urinate in.
According to the two men, their interrogations would commence in the evening and go on until dawn, night after night.
Al Zery told SVT that he was systematically beaten and hung from the ceiling by his feet.
Electric shocks were also part of the routine.
”They take your clothes off, you are blindfolded, your hands are tied behind your back and your feet are chained up. Then you are put on a wet mattress. The interrogator sits down – and then he begins,” Al Zery said.
According to him, the shock treatment is different from how most people imagine it.
The interrogator has a hand-held device and he can control the strength of the shocks.
”He increases the strength. He gets to the more sensitive points – the penis and testicles – and starts doling out bursts of electricity,” he said.
The mattress is kept wet so that the prisoner will feel the shocks throughout his body. According to Al Zery, he was sometimes forced to take cold showers after the interrogations so that the injuries wouldn't show as much.
A doctor was also present at all times during the interrogations to keep the prisoners alive.
In the interview both men say that they are certain that the Americans were behind the interrogations and that they were only using the Egyptians to do their dirty work.
”The Egyptians asked questions that related to Egypt, for example why are you attacking the regime? It was all about Egyptian interests. The Americans on the other hand asked about what was going on in Pakistan and what do you think of Osama bin Laden? It was obvious that the Americans were in control of the interrogations,” said Agiza to SVT.
The SVT report also reveals that former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak wanted to thank Sweden for their help in bringing Agiza and Al Zery back to Egypt.
According to a previously secret report sent from Sweden's embassy in Cairo detailing a meeting with a general in the Egyptian security service, Mubarak said that he wanted "a thank you letter to be sent to the responsible Swedish minister" for Sweden's help in the matter.
In 2008, the Swedish state agreed to pay both men 3 million kronor ($435,000) in compensation after admitting they were wrongly expelled.