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CIA staged suicides to cover Gitmo deaths, says former guard

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The razor wire-topped fence and a watch tower at the abandoned "Camp X-Ray" detention facility at the US Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 9, 2014. (AFP photo)

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has staged suicides to cover up inmate deaths at the notorious US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says a former guard.

Nearly 10 years ago, the Pentagon announced that three Guantanamo inmates “killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact.”

“Two Saudis and one Yemeni, each located in Camp 1, were found unresponsive and not breathing in their cells by guards,” Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF) said June 10, 2006, adding that “all lifesaving measures had been exhausted.”

The camp was quickly shuttered the next day.

However, former Guantanamo guard Joseph Hickman says the alleged suicides were in fact staged by the CIA, saying the US government might have had an interest in silencing the prisoners who “caused a lot of problems.”

In an interview with Russia Today, which was published on Saturday, Hickman unveiled what he saw in the few hours leading up to the deaths.

He said he witnessed hunger strike “leaders” being brought to a secret CIA “black site,” where CIA agents would make their deaths look like suicide by hanging.

“I witnessed a van – we used to call it paddy wagon – it was a detainee transport van,” he said. “The van came into the gate, backed up to Camp 1 and took a detainee out of Camp 1 Alpha Block and put him into the paddy wagon and drove [him away].”

This happened two more times over 20 minutes, he said, suggesting that there were “a total of three out of Camp 1 Alpha Block.”

Hickman said that the unusual transfer became more suspicious when the van went to a facility called “Camp No, which is a CIA black site on Guantanamo at the time.”

At the time, the JTF command interrogated up to 200 prisoners per week, according to Hickman. However, detainees made this difficult as they knew Washington-approved Guantanamo interrogation policies would prohibit questioning inmates if they were on a hunger strike.

Consequently, starting from 2005, detainees held long-term hunger strikes.

“All three of those detainees that went to that CIA black site that night were all leaders of the hunger strikes, massive hunger strikes,” Hickman said. “There were constant hunger strikes since they arrived. They caused a lot of problems for the command.”

The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) claimed then that all three were preparing for the suicide and hanged themselves with torn sheets and T-shirts, while their hands were tied.

“After those three deaths, there were two other detainees that committed suicide,” Hickman told RT. “I wasn’t there to say exactly what happened, but I knew from my experience. Those men did not commit a suicide. It brought up questions, which brought up nightmares. It just haunted me until I came forward.”

Guantanamo was established by former president George W. Bush’s administration in 2002 as a prison for alleged foreign terrorism suspects following the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.

A Senate report in December 2014 revealed that the CIA has used a wide array of torture as part of its interrogation methods against Guantanamo prisoners.

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