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Activists slam Guantanamo for holding inmates on 'hearsay'

US officials made "gross errors" while gathering evidence against Guantanamo inmates, according to the Afghan Analysts Network. Its report, titled "Kafka in Cuba," focuses on the last Afghans still held in detention.

The US military was unable to substantiate accusations against any of the eight longest-serving Afghan prisoners, the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN) said in a report on Thursday.

The majority of the men were "captured in the early years of the intervention when US forces were carrying out mass arbitrary detentions in Afghanistan," according to AAN.  "It was a time when US forces were desperate for intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden."

None of the eight people in question were detained on the battlefield, AAN added. Instead, US officials relied on their Pakistani and Afghan allies or unknown sources for tip-offs.

Millions for Pakistan

"The study shows how Afghan allies of US forces were able to exploit their lack of information about the country to denounce their personal or factional enemies and get them detained. The US practice of giving money for intelligence further contributed to wrongful detentions," AAN said on its website.

"Pakistan, as well, made millions of dollars in bounties from handing over ‘terrorists,' many of them non-combatants," the group added.

Also, the documents outlining the evidence against suspects were "rife with hearsay, secret evidence, bad translations, gross errors of fact and testimony obtained under duress and torture."

The Afghan detainees included a plastic flower salesman, a doorman, and a grocer. The detainees "had to prove their innocence, rather than vice versa," the study's author, Kate Clark, wrote in the 70-page report.

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The AAN activists also accused the US officials of making multiple, errors of geography and mixing up groups that are no longer active or never took up arms with active jihadis.

Out of eight inmates whose cases were presented in the study, five remain in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The US officials transported the other three to the United Arab Emirates this summer, activists said. The Guantanamo Bay facility currently holds around 60 people.

US President Barack Obama pledged to close down the military facility that served as a detention center for over 780 alleged terrorists since 2002. The move appears increasingly unlikely due near the end of his term, with the White House still struggling with fierce opposition from Congress.

dj/sms (Reuters, dpa)

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