Former Gitmo detainee says nightmare is over

A British resident released from Guantanamo Bay after nearly five years in captivity said Sunday his nightmare was over and he was delighted to be back home in Britain.

Former Gitmo detainee says nightmare is over

A British resident released from Guantanamo Bay after nearlyfive years in captivity said Sunday his detention at the U.S. prison camp was"profoundly difficult" to endure, his first comments since hisrelease.

Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi national, had been held at the U.S. base in Cubasince it opened in 2002, but was reunited with his family in south London this weekend.

British officials have long refused to represent resident foreigners held atGuantanamo, but took up al-Rawi's case after itwas disclosed he had provided assistance to MI5 — Britain's domestic spy agency.

U.S attorney George Brent Mickum IV said al-Rawi had agreed, during one ofat least six interviews with British agents at Guantanamo, to work for the British servicein exchange for his release.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Thursday al-Rawi's release had beenagreed, but officials and lawyers have not disclosed precisely when thedetainee was freed and flown to Britain.

"After over four years in Guantanamo Bay, my nightmare isfinally at an end," al-Rawi said in a statement. "I also feel greatsorrow for the other nine British residents who remain prisoners in Guantanamo Bay."

Britain's Foreign Officesaid only five foreign nationals resident in Britainare held at the prison camp, in Cuba.Al-Rawi said some detained British residents had gone on hunger strike toprotest their extended solitary confinement.

"The extreme isolation they are going through is one of the mostprofoundly difficult things to endure. I know that all too well," al-Rawisaid.

Al-Rawi and another British resident, Jamil el-Banna, were alleged to havebeen associated with al-Qaida through their connection with the London-based Muslimcleric Abu Qatada. Al-Rawi had lived in Britainsince 1985, and el-Banna was granted refugee status in Britain in2000.

"The hopelessness you feel in Guantanamocan hardly be described. You are asked the same questions hundreds oftimes," al-Rawi said. "Allegations are made against you that arelaughably untrue, but you have no chance to prove them wrong. There is notrial, no fair legal process."

The two were arrested in 2002 in Gambiawhile trying to return to Britainwith electronic equipment that authorities described as suspicious. The men'slawyers claim it was a battery charger.

Their lawyers have said the two were arrested after British intelligenceagents passed on information about their travel plans to the United States.

"Leaving my best friend Jamil el-Banna behind in Guantanamo Baymakes my freedom bittersweet," al-Rawi said in his statement. "He tooshould be released and reunited with his family."

Lawyers claim that after their arrests in 2002, the men ended up in Americancustody. From Gambia, the CIA tookthem on a rendition flight to Cairo, Egypt, where the plane refueled, then to aCIA facility in Afghanistan,where they were held and interrogated as suspected terrorists, Mickum has said.

Al-Rawi claimed in his statement that he and el-Banna were held in a CIAunderground prison close to Kabul, before beingtransferred to Guantanamo Bay.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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