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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 17:19 GMT
Freed Afghans condemn Cuba prison
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Hamanullah shows his prisoner tag
Some prisoners complained they did not know why they were arrested
A group of Afghans who have arrived in Kabul after being freed from American custody in Cuba have strongly complained about their treatment.

Several accused US forces in Guantanamo Bay of not respecting their religion and of routinely taunting them.

"They did everything to us, they tortured our bodies, they tortured our minds, they tortured our ideas and our religion," said Mohammed Khan.

Many of the 23 released had been in custody for more than two years.


Washington says detainees at Guantanamo Bay are treated according to the Geneva Convention.

But many of those who arrived at the Bagram air base near Kabul on Monday night claimed otherwise.

With long beards normally favoured by conservative Muslims, they said they felt bitterness towards the US. They spoke of the humiliations of captivity at Guantanamo, and of the wrenching separation from home.

"The American inspectors behaved very badly - they were mentally torturing us," said Mohammed Khan.

Released Afghan prisoner returns home
Many of the prisoners denied they were connected to the Taleban or al-Qaeda
"I'm very happy at being released but even recalling the past two-and-a-half years that I spent there is very painful for me.

"They are all innocent people just like me - if I was a Taleban and al-Qaeda why did they release me? The others still in jail are just like me," he said.

"We don't know what our crime was," said another former prisoner, Lall Gul. "They just arrested us and took us to Guantanamo prison."

Most of the group was formally freed by Afghan police on Tuesday morning, in what was believed to be the largest single release of Afghans from Guantanamo Bay.

A total of about 600 prisoners are still detained there.

So far, 119 detainees have been released.

The majority of those freed this week were arrested in Afghanistan during the US-led war against the Taleban in 2001 or soon afterwards.

While three Pakistanis flew on to Pakistan, the Afghans were handed over to the government before being processed by the International Committee for the Red Cross.

A spokesperson for the ICRC said the men were in good spirits and were looking forward to seeing their families.

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