Feb. 11, 2008, 9:39AM
Castro denies Cubans tortured prisoners
By ANITA SNOW Associated Press Writer
© 2008 The Associated Press
HAVANA — Ailing leader Fidel Castro on Monday denied U.S. presidential
hopeful John McCain's claim that Cuban agents helped torture American
prisoners of war in Vietnam in the 1960s, calling the assertion "a
"Let me remind you, Mr. McCain: the commandments of the religion you
practice prohibit lying," Castro wrote in an essay published by the
Communist Party newspaper Granma. "The years in prison and the wounds
received because of the attacks on Hanoi do not excuse you from the
moral obligation of the truth," the essay added.
McCain, Republican front-runner for the November presidential contest,
was a military pilot taken prisoner in 1967 and held for five years in
communist North Vietnam.
McCain has said that while he was held in Hanoi, a Cuban agent came to
show his Vietnamese captors "some new interrogation techniques." While
he has said that Cubans helped torture other American prisoners, they
were not among those who tortured him.
Many Cuban-American veterans of the disastrous CIA-backed Bay of Pigs
invasion of Cuba in 1961 consider McCain a hero for his time as a
prisoner of war. During campaign appearances before Cuban exiles, McCain
referred to his years in captivity and asserted that Cuban agents helped
Vietnamese torture American military prisoners.
Castro wrote that when he first heard of McCain's claim several years
ago, "I wanted to know where such a strange legend came from" and found
the source in the U.S. senator's book "Faith of My Fathers," published
"His accusation against internationalist Cuban revolutionaries, using
the nickname Fidel to identify one who was capable of 'torturing a
prisoner until they died' lacks even a minimum of ethics," Castro wrote.
"You accuse revolutionary Cubans of being torturers," Castro wrote,
maintaining that Cuban authorities did not torture the hundreds of
exiles it took prisoner during the invasion at the Bay of Pigs, which
the Cubans refer to as Playa Giron. "I seriously exhort you to prove
that even one of the more than 1,000 prisoners captured in combat at
Playa Giron was tortured."
The 81-year-old Castro, who has not been seen in public since undergoing
emergency intestinal surgery more than 18 months ago, regularly
publishes essays in state media. His brother Raul has headed a caretaker
government in his absence