Natalie O’Brien / Sydney Morning Herald – 2012-09-30 00:56:36
Hicks Forced to Take High Drug Doses in Guantanamo
(September 16, 2012) — Guantanamo Bay detainees, including David Hicks, were forced to take high dosages of anti-malaria drug mefloquine despite showing no signs of the disease, a practice likened to ”pharmacological waterboarding” by a US military doctor.
Questions have been raised about whether the mass administration of the drug to detainees was a secret, illegal experiment after a medical journal article last month by an army doctor, Major Remington Nevin, highlighted the ”inappropriate use” of the drug and asked if its use had been motivated by the drug’s psychotic side effects.
The US Centres for Disease Control issued a warning against the use of mefloquine on anyone suffering psychiatric disturbances or having a previous history of depression. Dr Nevin also warned high doses of the drug could cause brain injuries.
Mr Hicks has long claimed he was drugged against his will. Evidence including previously secret reports and witnesses including a Guantanamo guard and New York lawyer Josh Dratel support Mr Hicks’ claims.
Mr Dratel, who has top secret security clearance from the US Department of Justice and has acted for a number of detainees including Mr Hicks, was to give direct evidence of Mr Hicks’ drugging against his will for ”non-therapeutic reasons”.
In an affidavit prepared for the trial, Mr Dratel revealed US prosecutors admitted Mr Hicks’ claims ”guards had forced him to eat a meal which contained a sedative before they read him the charges” were true. He was told it was done to protect the officers reading the charges from his reactions.
Former Guantanamo guard Brandon Neely also supplied an affidavit for the trial saying detainees were beaten for refusing to take the drugs. He also claimed doctors never told detainees what drugs they were given.
What drugs were administered in some cases may never be known. Many medical records have apparently had names and dosages of drugs removed.
Evidence of forced drug injections at Guantanamo has been revealed in a previously secret US Department of Defence intelligence report into allegations of the use of mind-altering drugs to interrogate detainees.
The report also found ”chemical restraints were used on detainees that posed a threat to themselves” and detainees being treated with psychoactive drugs that impaired mental functions were interrogated while under the effects of the medication.
Such forced druggings and abuse handed out to Mr Hicks and other detainees in Guantanamo Bay was to be at the heart of his defence against the Australian government’s legal action to stop him receiving proceeds of crime by collecting royalties from his book Guantanamo: My Journey.
On July 24, a week before his case was due to go to trial in the New South Wales Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the case, saying it would have been unable to satisfy the court that admissions made by Mr Hicks while in Guantanamo should be relied upon and that Mr Hicks had served evidential material not previously available.
Mr Hicks’ lawyer, Steven Glass, said: ”The only thing David has wanted since he was first detained in 2001 was to have the allegations against him determined by a properly constituted court applying the rule of law. The trial â€¦ would have been the first time he had that opportunity.”
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