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Freed Bosnian prisoner says he was abused, insulted

A former Guantánamo Bay prisoner who was released earlier this week claims he was abused and humiliated at the U.S. detention center for suspected terrorists, according to a TV interview released Thursday.

Mustafa Ait Idr, 38, was among the first Guantánamo detainees ordered freed by a U.S. federal judge. The 38-year-old Algerian-born man, who returned to Bosnia on Tuesday, told private television Hayat that his captors abused him.

''There is nothing worse than that,'' said Ait Idr, who spent seven years at Guantánamo and called it ''the worst place'' imaginable.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ruled last month that Ait Idr and two other Algerian-born naturalized Bosnians should be released because the U.S. government's case was not strong enough to continue holding them. Leon said the evidence linking five Algerians to al Qaeda was not credible because it came from a single, unidentified source.

The order came in the first hearing on the Bush administration's evidence for keeping prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba as ``enemy combatants.''

The three had immigrated to Bosnia before they were detained in 2001 on suspicion of plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. They had been held at Guantánamo since January 2002.

Ait Idr declined a request by The Associated Press for an interview, saying he was exhausted and not ready to discuss his ordeal with U.S.-based media.

''I just came from there. I'm tired and they know my story over there anyway,'' he said in a brief telephone conversation.

Ait Idr told Hayat that his interrogators broke one of his fingers and captors insulted him and other Muslim prisoners by tossing the Koran -- Islam's holy book -- into a bathroom, ripping it and sitting on it.

''They did mistreat us. Not because we are terrorists, but because we are Muslims,'' he said.

Ait Idr, who had been exonerated by Bosnia's Supreme Court, said he is still struggling to understand why he was confined at Guantánamo, and expressed hope that President-elect Barack Obama will soon close the detention center.

'Even the Americans told me: `We do not know why you are here,' '' he said. ``They never told me I was al Qaeda or a terrorist.''

Ait Idr said he plans to take a break and spend some time alone with his family in Bosnia, including his youngest son, Abdullah, who was born two months after Ait Idr was detained.

''I see my children have grown,'' he told Hayat. ``The little one I have never seen before. This is the first time.''

Despite his lengthy ordeal, Ait Idr said he has no plans to sue the U.S. government or anyone else.

''What is over is over. But there is Judgment Day, and God will try them,'' he said.

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