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Detained Americans Complain Of Torture In Pakistan

SARGODHA, Pakistan (Reuters) -- Five Americans held in Pakistan on suspicion of using the Internet to contact Islamist militants said today they had been tortured as police asked a court to indict them on terrorism charges.

The students, in their 20s and from the U.S. state of Virginia, were detained last month. Police produced them before an antiterrorism court today after completing their interrogation.

"We are being tortured," several of the men shouted at reporters from inside a prison bus as they were being taken away after the hearing.

A police officer involved in the case, Amir Abbas Shirazi, dismissed the accusation.

"One of them just complained to the court about a stomach problem and said he needed some medicine," Abbas told reporters.

The five Americans, one of them wrapped in a shawl and another wearing a woolen cap, were brought to the court in handcuffs. Police did not allow reporters into the hearing.

They face lengthy prison terms if found guilty.

Shirazi said police had submitted their interrogation report, including a chargesheet and evidence, and asked the court to indict the suspects under antiterrorism laws and for violating the penal code.

"These clauses relate to involvement in activities of terrorism and subversion in Pakistan or any of its allies," Shirazi said.

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The men were arrested in the central city of Sargodha, home to one of Pakistan's biggest air bases, 190 kilometers southeast of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, not long after arriving in Pakistan.

Two of them are of Pakistani ancestry, one of Egyptian, one of Yemeni, and one of Eritrean.

Police officials said e-mails showed the suspects had contacted the Taliban, and that the militant group had planned to use them for attacks in Pakistan.

Police also had told court the five men had been in contact with an Al-Qaeda operative identified as just Saifullah.

The suspects told the court in their last hearing on January 4 that they had no plans to carry out attacks in Pakistan and they had only wanted to give fellow Muslims in Afghanistan financial and medical aid.

They also denied that they had contacts with Al-Qaeda or any other militant group, according to their lawyer.

A police investigation report showed pictures of a clip of a suicide attack on a U.S. convoy in Kabul posted on the YouTube website.

Police said one of the suspects, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, regularly visited the site and used to praise such videos. Shortly after Minni became a registered YouTube user, he was contacted by Saifullah, police said in the report.

The next hearing will be on February 2.