I’ve been held at Guantánamo for 20 years without trial. Mr Biden, please set me free

Injustice takes many forms. After 20 years in US custody, most of that time spent in Guantánamo, you could say I am an expert.

It may surprise you to know that I think America has a very good justice system. But it is only for Americans. In the cases of those like me, justice is not something that interests the US. I wish that people understood how Guantánamo is distinct.

In Guantánamo, the torture we are exposed to is not isolated to the interrogation rooms; it exists in our daily lives. This intentional psychological torture is what makes Guantánamo different. There is interference in every aspect of my existence – my sleep, my food, my walking.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protest against Guantanamo Bay detentions at the US supreme court in 2017. Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

Stuck in Guantánamo Bay detention camp, year after year, I often wonder if I will ever get my “day in court”. Not as a defendant – I have never been charged with a crime – but as a claimant seeking redress for the torture and mistreatment I have suffered at the hands of the US and its allies.

Today my lawyers are at least getting a hearing at the international criminal court (ICC) in the Hague. The ICC’s prosecutor wants to investigate crimes against humanity committed during the Afghan war. In April, ICC judges decided an investigation would “not serve the interests of justice”.…  Seguir leyendo »

"Shipwrecked Boat" (Bote naufragado), 2011, de Djamel Ameziane en exhibición en John Jay College de Justicia Penal de la Ciudad Universitaria de Nueva York Credit John Jay College de Justicia Penal

El tapete de oración de Moath al Alwi está manchado de pintura. Todos los días se levanta antes del amanecer y trabaja durante horas en un complejo modelo de barco elaborado con materiales reciclados; esta es una de las decenas de esculturas que ha creado desde su primera detención en la prisión militar de bahía de Guantánamo en 2002. Moath al Alwi es considerado un detenido de bajo perfil, pero su estancia en la prisión es indefinida; su arte es su refugio.

Las velas de los barcos de Alwi están hechas de retazos de camisetas viejas. Una tapa de una botella dirige un timón elaborado con piezas de una botella de champú, que gira con delicados cables de hilo dental.…  Seguir leyendo »

A section of the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Credit John Moore/Getty Images

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump made a pledge to fill the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay with “bad dudes.” He brought up Guantánamo again on Nov. 1, a day after the Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov was arrested on a charge of killing eight people in a terror attack in New York. Mr. Trump said that authorities should send the suspect to the prison because the American justice system is a “laughingstock.”

But the next day Mr. Trump apparently changed his mind, indicating a preference for trying Mr. Saipov in New York. He said in a tweet that he’d “love” to send him to Guantánamo but “that process takes much longer than going through the federal system.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Una postal de la estación naval de Guantánamo, Cuba, de alrededor del año 1910 Allan Seiden/Legacy Archive, vía Getty Images

El cheque por 4085 dólares se expide cada año en abril, a nombre del tesorero general de la República de Cuba pero ese cargo dejó de cobrarse hace décadas. La última vez que el gobierno cubano cobró ese cheque fue en 1959.

Sin embargo, presentando ese ínfimo pago anual y sabiendo que ni siquiera será aceptado, Estados Unidos continúa sintiéndose con derechos sobre su más antigua base naval en el extranjero, un terreno de 11.655 hectáreas sobre la costa del sureste de Cuba, sin parangón con ninguna otra base militar en el mundo.

El viernes, Donald Trump anunció un retroceso parcial de la apertura del gobierno de Obama hacia Cuba, al volver a instaurar las restricciones a los viajes e interacciones comerciales.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week, we have seen reports that a former British inmate of Guantanamo Bay, Jamal Udeen al-Harith, carried out an ISIS suicide attack in Iraq.

Some will undoubtedly use this news to make the argument that Guantanamo Bay should remain open, that it should be increasingly used to house the current crop of jihadist terrorists and that no further inmates should be released.

Indeed, President Donald Trump has made some of these arguments, and Republicans have put pressure on him to expand the prison in Cuba.

No one is more outraged than me, a counter-extremism specialist, by the reports that a former Guantanamo prisoner joined ISIS and carried out this attack.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rehabilitating Guantánamo’s torture victims

It is extremely unlikely that President Obama will be able to fulfill his promise of closing Guantánamo before leaving office, but he can still take action to mitigate this national stain. Torture causes profound harm to human beings, families, and communities. We cannot undo the torture that was committed on scores of men — but we can do the right thing now: We can provide the medical, psychological, and social supports these survivors need to heal.

This positive step will not only protect our national security by reducing the likelihood that released prisoners will act against our interests, but also will begin to restore the reputation of our country as a human rights protector — a distinction that has been shattered by our use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in the war on terror.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Guantánamo Bay detention facility in 2014. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

Instead of blocking President Obama’s efforts to close the costly Guantánamo Bay detention facility, Congress should be working with him to finally shut it down.

I’ve been to Guantánamo twice, once in 2002, with the former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senators, and again in 2013, with Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff.

Seeing the facility firsthand reinforces my belief in the great need to close this prison, which has cost us billions of dollars and is a real threat to our national security.

Simply put, Guantánamo is one of the best propaganda tools that terrorists have today.…  Seguir leyendo »

Some of the top Japanese war criminals that were convicted--including former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, sitting in the center of the front row wearing glasses--are seen during war crimes trial proceedings in Tokyo. (Associated Press)

After U.S. soldiers broke down the door of his Tokyo residence on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 1945, they found Hideki Tojo struggling to stand despite a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Tojo, who was prime minister when Japan attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, chose an unusual weapon for his suicide attempt: a Colt pistol taken from a captured U.S. aviator. With no physician at hand, the last Axis dictator — as most Americans viewed him — seemed to have little time to live.

Tojo survived, however, thanks to U.S. medical care, and because Sgt. John Archinal of Allentown, Pa.,…  Seguir leyendo »

El caso Guantánamo, cuya investigación inicié en 2009 y continuó el juez Ruz por delitos de torturas, tratos degradantes e inhumanos en la prisión del mismo nombre, sufridos por cuatro ciudadanos (entre ellos un español) después de su detención por Estados Unidos en Afganistán, Pakistán y Gambia, y hasta su liberación años después, fue archivado el 17 de julio por el actual titular del Juzgado Central de Instrucción 5 de la Audiencia Nacional.

Se enviaron comisiones rogatorias a EE UU y Reino Unido. Sólo este cumplió con la justicia española. El primero, desde la soberbia del poderoso, guardó un silencio culpable y sostiene un centro de detención y tortura que, a la postre, no ha impedido el avance del terrorismo yihadista pero sí ha contribuido a la frustración del Estado de derecho.…  Seguir leyendo »

When President Barack Obama announced his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center on his second day in office, he sounded serious.

He was flanked by more than a dozen retired military leaders, who’d all urged him to close the facility because it had become a virtual recruitment tool for terrorists and a stain on the United States’ reputation for upholding human rights and the rule of law. Obama also had the support of national-security experts across the political spectrum when he signed his historic executive order.

More than six years later, the U.S. facility in Cuba is still open.…  Seguir leyendo »

Guantánamo’s Charade of Justice

Last week, we learned that, only months into the job, the official in charge of the military courts system at Guantánamo Bay was stepping down, after judges ruled he had interfered in proceedings. The appointment of an interim replacement was the sixth change of leadership for the tribunals since 2003.

This is yet another setback for the military commissions, as they tackle two of their highest-profile cases: the joint trial of the chief planner of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and four alleged co-conspirators, and the trial of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused in the bombing of the American destroyer Cole.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protestor holds a placard questioning the American identity in front of hooded fellow protestors during a demonstration against the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on January 11, 2015. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Before the “war on terror,” many Americans knew about Guantanamo Bay only from its depiction in “A Few Good Men.” In the film’s most famous scene, the Marine colonel who commands the U.S. naval base, played by Jack Nicholson, declares during a court-martial: “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.”

We have been told that holding prisoners at Guantanamo for more than a decade is a necessary price for freedom.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Path to Closing Guantánamo

When I began as the State Department’s envoy for closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, many people advised me that progress was impossible. They were wrong.

In the two years before I started, on July 1, 2013, only four people were transferred from Guantánamo. Over the past 18 months, we moved 39 people out of there, and more transfers are coming. The population at Guantánamo — 127 — is at its lowest level since the facility opened in January 2002. We also worked with Congress to remove unnecessary obstacles to foreign transfers. We began an administrative process to review the status of detainees not yet approved for transfer or formally charged with crimes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estados Unidos, hoy, tiene más de dos millones de reclusos. Entre ellos no se contabilizan los 137 que quedan en la prisión de Guantánamo, como ninguno de los que les antecedieron en la misma. Seguramente aquellos presos oficiales no sufrirán las técnicas de tortura que han padecido los denominados enemigos encerrados en una isla de impunidad bajo el Programa de Rendición, Detención e Interrogatorio, creado por George W. Bush, el 17 de septiembre del 2001 y que permitió a la CIA desarrollar métodos como el waterboarding (ahogamiento simulado), walling (golpear contra el muro), humillaciones y violencia sexual, golpes, amenazas de muerte, privación de sueño, “hidratación y alimentación rectal”, entre otras, en forma sistemática, hasta el cierre de ese siniestro programa en el 2009 por orden del presidente Obama, quien, sin embargo, no exigió al fiscal general que abriera ninguna investigación pero sí pidió “comprensión” para los torturadores.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly eight years ago, 14 men arrived at Guantánamo after years in Central Intelligence Agency custody. Since then, only one has been tried and convicted with the case upheld on appeal. That was Ahmed Ghailani, a Tanzanian national who received a life sentence for his role in the 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 223 people. Mr. Ghailani was tried in federal court in New York, and he is serving his sentence in a federal prison in the United States. His 13 comrades from the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program are still in limbo at Guantánamo, where justice for them and the families of their victims remains elusive.…  Seguir leyendo »

The transfer to civilian custody of accused al Qaeda operative Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, also known as Abu Anas al-Libi, presents the Obama administration with a high-profile opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy of prosecuting terrorist suspects in the U.S. criminal justice system. It also rebuts critics in Congress who maintain that military commissions at Guantanamo Bay are the only sensible venue for terrorism prosecutions.

Al-Libi, who was captured by U.S. military forces in Libya earlier this month, was indicted in 2000 with 20 other defendants in the Southern District of New York for his reputed role in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S…  Seguir leyendo »

The detention facility on our military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is holding 166 individuals. Most of them have been there a decade or more.

Operating Guantanamo costs about $450 million a year — or about $2.7 million a detainee, according to the Defense Department. Consider this: It costs $78,000 to hold a convicted terrorist in the most secure federal prison in the United States, Supermax in Colorado. With the sequester stretching budgets and Defense Department employees under furloughs, the U.S. is spending, per Guantanamo detainee, roughly 35 times the amount it spends at Supermax detaining a convicted terrorist.

This is a massive misuse of taxpayer money.…  Seguir leyendo »

About two months ago I learned that some of my books had been banned at Guantánamo Bay. Apparently detainees were requesting them, and their lawyers were delivering them to the prison, but they were not being allowed in because of “impermissible content.”

I became curious and tracked down a detainee who enjoys my books. His name is Nabil Hadjarab, and he is a 34-year-old Algerian who grew up in France. He learned to speak French before he learned to speak Arabic. He has close family and friends in France, but not in Algeria. As a kid growing up near Lyon, he was a gifted soccer player and dreamed of playing for Paris St.-Germain,…  Seguir leyendo »

For the last week I have been fasting in solidarity with the men on hunger strike in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, forgoing all food and taking only liquids. I began day one thinking about a book I had recently read: former detainee Ahmed Errachidi's The General. Errachidi had worked as a chef in London for 18 years but was sold for a bounty to US forces after he travelled to Pakistan. He was finally released from the prison in 2007, but not before he had been held in isolation for three years and tortured relentlessly. The book describes his five and a half years in Guantánamo, being abused along with his fellow detainees.…  Seguir leyendo »