Kuwait denies torturing US citizen

January 24, 2011

A Kuwaiti interior ministry official has rejected accusations that Somali-born American teenager Mohammad Gulet was beaten and tortured during his detention at Kuwait’s Deportation Centre, Kuwait Times daily reported on Monday.

Gulet has claimed in interviews with the US media that he was forced to spend 98 percent of his detention period at the deportation centre following a refusal by American authorities to allow him to re-enter the United States after his name was apparently placed on the country’s no-fly list.

The 19-year-old and his lawyers have reportedly said the detention was at the behest of US authorities and that he had been punched, beaten and subjected to torture by electrocution.

Interrogators demanded information on whether he had been in contact with the US-born cleric Anwar Al Awlaqi during his time in Yemen, and whether he had listened to Al Awlaqi’s sermons in 2001, when Gulet would have been been 10 or 11 years old, he said.

However, the Somali-American teenager said that he pointed out that he had been a child at that time and did not recall whether or not he had been to the mosque where Al Awlaqi preached.

He also reported said that the FBI agents who questioned him had insisted that he had attended terrorist training camps in Somalia and Yemen and had asked him to become an informant. It was not clear where this questioning had taken place.

Gulet said that he had visited Yemen and Somalia to study Islam and Arabic and to discover his roots and insisted that he had visited Kuwait to continue his studies, but had been arrested on arrival.

On Friday, he was reunited with his family and said that it felt great to be back in the United States.

However, he expressed concern for others who could be in a situation similar to the one he lived.

“There are probably people out there being tortured like I was, whose voices are not being heard,’’ he said, quoted by US media.

In Kuwait, Kuwait Society for Human Rights (KSHR) had criticized “Gulet’s detention by Kuwaiti securitymen at the behest of a foreign government.”

“We in the KSHR wonder why attention was not paid to this incident. We are surprised that this foreign party (the US government) has denied ever making such a request. In fact, it has not taken the right legal channel like the Interpol, for example,” Ali Ahmad Al Baghli, the society head, said, quoted by Kuwaiti daily Arab Times on Saturday.

“We strongly denounce and condemn the usage of Kuwaiti security apparatuses by foreign sources in perpetrating actions that are clear violations of human rights in Kuwait, whether committed against citizens or residents. We also implore the security apparatus and Interior Ministry to desist from heeding such illegal requests from any source or government even if they are allies, like the American government and others. They should resist being used as the flogging boy in the future, because the US government-out of respect for its own laws, constitution, and justice system- has always asked other countries (Morocco, Jordan and now Kuwait) to do illegal things against its own citizens or others, but outside the borders of its own country. This is illegal and unacceptable, and we hope lessons would be learnt from this incident,” he said.

According to Al Baghli, the “actions” of the Kuwaiti government came after Mohammad was put on US government’s no-fly list, a situation that caused worry to Kuwaiti officials.

“We like to remind Kuwait’s Criminal Investigations Department and other security authorities that torture is illegal and carries criminal and civil penalties,” Al Baghli said.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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