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Bagram becomes the new Guantanamo -

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The Pentagon is denying new allegations US military personnel have been abusing foreign detainees
at the detention facility at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. And while Guantanamo Bay is set to
be closed within a year, Bagram's future remains unclear.

PETER CAVE: Fresh allegations have surfaced that US military personnel have been abusing foreign
detainees.

This time the allegations centre on the US detention facility at the Bagram Air Base in
Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is denying the allegations and while the US President Barack Obama has ordered the
closure of Guantanamo Bay within a year, he hasn't decided what to do about Bagram.

Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: There are thought to be more than 500 detainees in US custody at the Bagram Air Base
in Afghanistan.

The detainees have no legal right to challenge their detention and most have never been charged.

Now a BBC investigation has uncovered allegations of abuse and neglect at the facility.

Speaking through a translator, former detainees say they were threatened with death at gunpoint.

FORMER DETAINEE 1 (translated): They put a pistol in my ear. They said I had to speak or be shot.

FORMER DETAINEE 2 (translated): They put guns to your head and threatened you with death. The
played very loud music and put medicine in our drinks to prevent us from sleeping while they
interrogated us.

KIM LANDERS: The BBC has interviewed 27 former inmates of Bagram. They were held at various times
between 2002 and 2008.

None were charged with any offence or put on trial but all were accused of belonging to or helping
Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Only two former detainees interviewed by the BBC said they'd been treated well.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell has insisted that all inmates at the Bagram
facility are treated humanely.

GEOFF MORRELL: I have no reason to believe that they are not being done according to the army field
manual and all the other restrictions we place upon them.

KIM LANDERS: These are not the first allegations to surface of abuse at Bagram. A spokesman for the
US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates says there have been well documented instances where the
policy of treating detainees humanely wasn't followed.

Lieutenant Mark Wright says service members have been held accountable for their actions in those
cases.

But the situation at Bagram highlights a problem that US President Barack Obama has with America's
detention policy. While he's promised to shutdown Guantanamo Bay, he's made no such commitment
about Bagram and in a speech last month about detention issues Bagram didn't rate a mention.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell gives this description about Bagram.

GEOFF MORRELL: We view it as an essential component to our war fighting efforts in Afghanistan. It
is necessary to be able to take people off the battlefield and get them out of the fight so that
they no longer pose a threat to us or the Afghan people.

KIM LANDERS: Unlike Guantanamo detainees, inmates at Bagram have no access to a lawyer and they
can't challenge their detention in a US court. Human rights groups describe it as a "legal black
hole".

Neil Durkin is a spokesman for Amnesty International.

NEIL DURKIN: The Bush administration's policy which was to sort of thwart all you know,
applications to the courts by these individuals in Bagram and elsewhere in the sort of greater
detention estate that was run by the Americans and is still being run. That is continuing under
President Obama and there is still this sort of blockage in the courts in the United States and
that's very worrying I think.

KIM LANDERS: Blocking the access of Bagram detainees to the US court system is not the only thing
on the Obama administration's mind.

It's also mounted a legal fight against a court ruling that it has to release dozens of photos
allegedly showing US troops abusing prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.