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Ambassador Rejects Russian's Guantanamo Abuse Claims

29 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. ambassador to Russia says he doubts a statement by a former prisoner at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay that inmates were tortured and gassed and that guards routinely profaned the Koran.

U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan detained Airat Vakhitov, a Russian citizen, and held him in confinement at Guantanamo Bay for two years before releasing him a year ago. Vakhitov, living now in Tatarstan, has sued in U.S. courts, demanding that he be declared innocent of any crimes.

He makes the abuse allegations in his suit. AP quotes him as saying he never saw the defiling of the Koran but was told of it by a cellmate.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow is visiting today in Kazan, capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan. Asked about Vakhitov's charges, Vershbow insisted that conditions at Guantanamo Bay are human and that any misuse of the Koran would have been isolated and contrary to regulations.

Vakhitov said in a newspaper interview that he was abducted by terrorists during a visit to Tajkistan. He said his captors took him to Afghanistan and sold him to U.S. authorities for $5,000 as a terrorist. He said he is suing not primarily for compensation but to clear his name.