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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed that medical professionals who monitored CIA interrogations at the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay violated medical ethics by participating in torture.

A confidential 43-page report that was leaked to The New York Review of Books on Monday reveals that health personnel monitored detainees as they were subjected to techniques such as waterboarding, prolonged stress positions, food deprivation and exposure to extreme temperatures.

The Red Cross found that detainees had been threatened with ‘electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and being brought close to death.’

In some cases, the Red Cross reported, medical staff recommended stopping the treatment, but in others they ‘recommended its continuation, but with adjustments.’

The report was based on interviews with 14 ‘high-value detainees’ who were sent to Guantanamo in September 2006.

One detainee told the Red Cross ‘that a health person threatened that medical care would be conditional upon co-operation with the interrogators.’

The report noted that the health personnels’ ‘primary purpose appears to have been to serve the interrogation process and not the patient.

‘The interrogation process is contrary to international law,’ the Red Cross emphasised, adding: ‘Participation in such a process is contrary to international standards of medical ethics.’

The Bush administration granted the Red Cross private access to the 14 detainees after they were moved from secret interrogation sites and prisons to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

The report was written shortly after then president George W Bush publicly declared that the United States did not and had not tortured detainees at secret CIA prisons known as ‘black sites.’

The Obama administration has ordered the sites closed and has restricted the CIA to using only those interrogation methods approved for use by the US military until a complete review of the programme is conducted.

The neutral Swiss-based International Committee of the Red Cross is designated by the Geneva Conventions on warfare to visit prisoners of war and other people detained by an occupying power to ensure that countries respect their obligations under the 1949 accords.

It upholds a policy of keeping its reports to governments secret in order to encourage officials to grant access to prisoners.

Red Cross spokesman Bernard Barrett declined to comment on the report, saying: ‘We deplore that confidential material attributed to the ICRC was made public.’

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