Two former Guantanamo Bay detainees are suing former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and other military officials, accusing them of mistreating and imprisoning them for years despite knowing they were not enemy combatants.
The men joined three other Guantanamo Bay detainees in a federal lawsuit late on Wednesday against Rumsfeld, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers and several officials at the military prison.
Like other such lawsuits pending in the Washington federal court, the complaint accuses the government of torturing detainees. Military officials kicked and beat prisoners, suspended them from ceilings, humiliated them and desecrated their Koran, the lawsuit says.
What is unique about this case, however, is that two of the detainees -- identified as Abu Muhammad and Zakirjan Hasam -- say they underwent the military's Combatant Status Review Tribunals and were ruled not to be enemy combatants. Despite that, they said, their mistreatment continued for nearly two years before they were released.
Rumsfeld's successor, Robert Gates, pushed in his first weeks as defense secretary for closing the detention center at the US naval base in Cuba, arguing that its image was so tainted that any military trials there would be viewed as illegitimate, according to the New York Times.
He was overruled, however, after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other government lawyers objected to moving detainees to the US, the Times said in a report posted on its Web site on Thursday night.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agreed with Gates, but Vice President Dick Cheney's office took the same position as Gonzales, the report said, citing unidentified officials.
Both Muhammad, an Algerian, and Hasam, a native of Uzbekistan, now live in a refugee camp in Albania, the lawsuit said. Both men filed the lawsuits under the pseudonyms they have used since being released.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, the group providing legal services for the men, says the military violated the men's constitutional and human rights.
"Defendants failed in their command obligation to prevent these abuses and punish those responsible," attorneys wrote.
The Pentagon has said it thoroughly investigated allegations of misconduct at the camp and disciplined concerned officials.