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Detainee says US handed him over to Moroccans who tortured him

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- Binyam Muhammad, who has been accused of plotting Al Qaeda attacks in the United States, was tortured with a scalpel after American authorities handed him over to Moroccan interrogators, according to an account provided by his lawyer.

Muhammad made his first appearance in the US military courtroom in Guantanamo Bay yesterday. He is charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders to attack civilians, and other crimes.

The 27-year-old detainee told the judge that he has been tortured. He criticized US authorities for getting his name wrong, said he was not the person they sought, and bitterly suggested the court refer to him as Count Dracula.

''After four years of torture and rendition, you have the wrong person in the stand," Muhammad said. Military documents spell his name as Muhammad and Mohammad. The judge, Marine Colonel Ralph Kohlmann, told Muhammad it was the prosecutor's job to establish his identity during trial.

A written account of his capture provided to The Associated Press by Muhammad's civilian lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, details the detainee's allegations of torture while ''directly or indirectly" in the custody of the United States. He alleged, among other things, that he was sliced with a scalpel and given mind-altering drugs.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said last month the United States does not transport terrorism suspects to nations where it is likely they could be tortured, a practice known as extraordinary rendition. Human rights groups say the United States carries out extraordinary renditions to outsource torture. The American Civil Liberties Union last week asked the United Nations to investigate.

Born in Ethiopia, Muhammad moved to Britain when he was 15. He said he went to Afghanistan because he had become a practicing Muslim, wanted to kick a drug habit, and thought he could do so if he got away from London. He also wanted to see the Taliban Islamic regime in Afghanistan with his own eyes, he said.

Muhammad was captured in April 2002 in Karachi, Pakistan, while trying to return to London. Three months later, he was transferred by the United States to Morocco, according to the document written by Smith, who interviewed Muhammad and read his written account.

Muhammad said he landed at an air field he believed was near Rabat, the Moroccan capital, and was taken into a house behind a metal fence.

His torturers beat him and sliced his penis with a scalpel, according to the detainee's account.

In January 2004, Muhammad was flown to what he believed was a CIA-run facility in Afghanistan. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2004.

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