ICE blogs

June 5, 2008

Al-Jazeera cameraman finally released from ‘worst prison mankind has ever seen’

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, politics, conflict, human rights — news_editor @ 12:57 am

Associated Press reports that An Al-Jazeera cameraman released from the US-run Guantanamo Bay detention centre in April 2008 described it as the worst prison mankind has ever seen. Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese citizen, told a cheering crowd in Khartoum: ‘After 2,340 days spent in the most heinous prison mankind has ever known, we are honored to be here. Thank you, and thank all those defended us and of our right in freedom.’

Al-Haj was the only journalist from a major international news organization held at Guantanamo and many of his supporters saw his detention as punishment for an Arabic television channel whose broadcasts angered US officials. But his imprisonment received very little coverage in the mainstream Western media.

Al-Haj, who was supported while in Guantanamo by the human rights charity Reprieve, said: ‘I was subjected to 130 (interrogation) sessions, more than 35 about Al-Jazeera, and they wanted me to be a spy against Al-Jazeera.’ As a faithful Muslim, he rejected the offer.

Though able to walk a short distance at the event, al-Haj was still weak after a 16-month hunger strike at Guantanamo. His attorney, Zachary Katznelson, who met with al-Haj at the US base April 11, said he was emaciated because of the hunger strike. He said al-Haj had been having problems with his liver and kidneys and had blood in his urine.
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