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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 22:40 GMT 23:40 UK
Al-Qaeda suspect's father on hunger strike
A prisoner is carried on a stretcher by two US soldiers at Guantanamo Bay
US: Criticised for its treatment of detainees
The father of a Swedish national being held by US authorities at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has locked himself in a metal cage and begun a hunger strike to protest at his son's detention.


We have asked these questions for so many months and we have not yet received an answer that we are satisfied with

Swedish Swedish Government aide Hans Dahlgren
Mehdi Ghezali, who is 47-years-old and originally from Algeria, began his protest in a central Stockholm square on Wednesday to draw attention to the case of his son, Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali, and the way in which he has been treated.

He also hopes to pressure the Swedish Government into raising the issue with US authorities.

"They are treated like dogs," he told Reuters news agency, saying his 2.5 metre (8 feet) by 2.5 m cage is meant to replicate the conditions in which his son is being held.

"They sit in cages like monkeys. They have no toilets, only buckets. It's torture...it is worse than Auschwitz."

Answers demanded

Mr Ghezali had not heard from his son since July 2001 until he received a letter from the Red Cross saying that he had been detained.

Mehdi Ghazali in his cage in Sergels Torg square in central Stockholm
Ghezali is planning a 10-day protest

He said the letter indicated his son had gone to Pakistan to study Islam.

However, it is reported that his son was part of a group of 156 suspected al-Qaeda fighters arrested by Pakistani authorities as they attempted to escape Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains into Pakistan, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday met US Ambassador Charles A Heimbold to discuss Mr Ghezali's case and to ask about the charges against him and whether he had been permitted to receive letters.

"We have asked these questions for so many months and we have not yet received an answer that we are satisfied with," Swedish Government aide Hans Dahlgren said.

"So we will continue asking them until we get an answer."

Mr Ghezali's protest comes shortly after Karem Sadok Chatty, a Swedish citizen of Tunisian descent, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to hijack a flight from Sweden to Britain.

Human rights criticism

The US Government has faced criticism from human rights groups for its detention of around 600 suspected members of Afghanistan's former Taleban regime and members of wanted Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Washington has refused to grant the detainees prisoner-of-war status, with rights protected under the Geneva Conventions, defining them as "enemy combatants".

It is reserving the right to try them before secret military tribunals with the power to sentence them to death.

So far, none of the detainees have been charged.


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03 Sep 02 | Europe
02 Sep 02 | South Asia
15 Aug 02 | Americas
30 Apr 02 | Americas
27 Jan 02 | Americas
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