Report: French judge wants to probe Guantanamo torture claims

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — A French judge is seeking U.S. permission to visit the prison camps here to investigate claims by former French inmates that they were tortured, the Associated Press reported from Paris on Tuesday.

The AP reported that it saw a formal international request from investigating judge Sophie Clement to U.S. authorities to see the prison here that Tuesday held 171 captives, none of them French citizens. Clement also seeks copies of all documents relating to the arrest and transfer of three Frenchmen who were held there.

The three men are Nizar Sassi, now 31, Mourad Benchellali, now 30, and Khaled Ben Mustapha, now 40. They were arrested on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in late 2001 and transferred to Guantánamo. They were sent back to France in 2004 and 2005, held for a time for trial there, but then released.

The men told the judge during questioning in France that they were subject to violence including torture and rape during their detention.

At Guantánamo, a Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said it was not immediately known whether U.S. officials had received the request.

The request is the third indication in less than a week that international authorities have renewed their interest in the legality of Bush-era policies on the treatement of war-on-terror captives. On Friday, a Spanish judge decided to go forward with torture investigations involving four other former Guantanamo captives now living in Europe, one day after British authorities said they would probe British links to a CIA-organized rendition program that delivered opponents of now dead Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to Libya, where they allege they were tortured.

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