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Cablegate: Conditions in Security Detention Facilities

VZCZCXRO7647
OO RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0458 1641427
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 121427Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3523
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1112
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0522
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0689
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT IMMEDIATE 0636
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0820
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0498
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4029

S E C R E T TRIPOLI 000458

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG AND DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/11/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR KBTS LY
SUBJECT: CONDITIONS IN SECURITY DETENTION FACILITIES

REF: TRIPOLI 455

CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (c), (d) 1. (S/NF) In the course of a meeting on June 10 separate issues (reftel), two detainees returned from Guantanamo Bay expressed to P/E Chief the fact that detention facilities run by Libya's External Security Organization (ESO) were markedly better than the Abu Salim prison. ISN 194 and ISN 557 were held at an ESO detention facility for approximately three months after their return to Libya in December 2006 and August 2007, respectively. Both were then transferred to the Abu Salim prison, which is located in the suburbs of Tripoli. A security official who accompanied P/E Chief during his visit explained that Abu Salim is controlled and managed by military police; it is the facility at which terrorists, extremists and other individuals deemed to be particularly dangerous to state security are detained. Depending on the nature of their case, such individuals may be questioned by ESO before being transferred to the custody of the Internal Security Organization (ISO) for further questioning. While military police officials formally manage and guard Abu Salim prison, ISO officials play a large role in management of the facility because they bear primary responsibility for many of the prisoners there. 2. (S/NF) The two detainees said they were given regular opportunities to exercise outdoors during their time at the ESO-run facility. By comparison, opportunities for exercise at Abu Salim were more limited and access to outdoor exercise was less regular. Both detainees said separately that guards and officials at the ESO detention facility treated prisoners with greater respect than their counterparts in ISO. Food was better - both noted that they were able to get coffee at the ESO facility, while Abu Salim offered only tea - and they were given access to books, radio and television, which were not available at Abu Salim. Physical facilities were also better: ESO facilities were comparatively well-furnished and maintained, and often had windows, while cells in Abu Salim were dark, dank and in poor condition. ISN 194 noted that xxxxxxxxxxxx had been able to visit him on multiple occasions during his time at the ESO facility, but had not visited him at Abu Salim. xxxxxxxxxxxx subsequently told P/E Chief that he had sought several times to visit the detainees at Abu Salim, but had not yet obtained permission to do so. 3. (S/NF) A security official told P/E Chief that conditions at ESO detention facilities had dramatically improved some two years after the arrival of ESO Director Musa Kusa in 1994. Kusa, disturbed by consistent reports of inhumane treatment in ESO detention facilities, issued orders in 1996 directing that his officers immediately cease the abuse of detainees in their custody. ESO detention facilities were physically rehabilitated shortly thereafter. Other improvements included the quality and quantity of food, offering beverages other than water, allowing detainees to exercise regularly, and stopping what the official termed the "casual abuse" of detainees. The official said Kusa circulated a memorandum to his staff outlining the new procedures and making it clear that ESO officials who violated the new rules would be punished. Several officials were dismissed in 1996 and 1997, which the official credited with driving home the point that detainees in ESO custody were not to be abused. Commenting on the fact that both ISN 194 and ISN 557 expressed a desire to return from Abu Salim prison to the ESO facility, the security official said their comments were typical of detainees who are transferred from the custody of ESO to Abu Salim. STEVENS

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