Sami al-Haj: Free After 6 Years in Gitmo
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Amy Goodman of Democracy Now is reporting that Sami al-Haj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera who was held at Guantanamo for six and a half years without trial or charge, has finally been released:
AMY GOODMAN: Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj has just been released from Guantanamo Bay. The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders issued a statement Thursday saying Sami al-Haj had been tortured while at Guantanamo and subjected to 200 interrogation sessions. He's lost 40 pounds, is suffering from intestinal problems and bouts of paranoia, according to his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.
Asim al-Haj, who is Sami al-Haj's younger brother, told Al Jazeera he doesn't recognize his 39-year-old brother, because he now looks like a man in his eighties. We spoke to Asim al-Haj on Thursday night, a few hours before Sami al-Haj landed in Khartoum.
ASIM AL-HAJ: [translated] First of all, we never even imagined that Sami could be arrested. Then, we had never expected that he could be taken to Guantanamo. It was a huge shock to us when we found out he was in Guantanamo, but even then, we could never have imagined that he would be kept there for more than six years.
Today, it's been six-and-a-half years. Now, thank God, we can barely believe he's coming back. It feels like we're living in a dream. With Sami's return, we hope to find some peace again, and we hope that he can become an active member of society as soon as possible. Sami needs to get the medical attention he needs so he can recover.
Based on the information we have from the delegation that visited Sami al-Haj, he is in a very grave condition and is suffering from several health problems. I can't explain them all, but he was force-fed via tube for the past year and a half. What we do know is that he has asked the delegation accompanying him to take him straight from the airport to the hospital. He knows how ill he has become. We hope that he gets the specific kind of medical care that he needs at a facility that is well known and that we agree upon, so that we can ensure Sami al-Haj is taken care of and we can be assured that he will live and be guaranteed a good future.
Today, I'd like to urge the United Nations, international human rights organizations and the international press to bring a serious investigation into the case of Sami al-Haj, because we really have no idea what happened to Sami al-Haj while he was at Guantanamo.