Who Are the Five Guantánamo Prisoners Given New Homes in Georgia and Slovakia and Who Is the Repatriated Saudi?


Abdel Ghalib Hakim, a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo who was released to start a new life in Georgia in November 2014. Hakim is seen in a photograph from Guantanamo included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.On November 20, five men — long cleared for release — were freed from Guantánamo to begin new lives in Georgia and Slovakia. Four of the men are Yemenis, and the fifth man is a Tunisian. Two days after, a Saudi was also released, repatriated to his home country. The releases reduce the prison’s population to 142, leaving 73 men still held who have been approved for release — 70 by the Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established to review all the prisoners’ cases in 2009, and three this year by Periodic Review Boards, a new review process that began in October 2013. Of the 73, it is worth noting that 54 are Yemenis.

The Yemenis given new homes in Georgia and Slovakia are the first Yemenis to be freed in over four years — since July 2010, when Mohammed Hassan Odaini, a student seized by mistake, was released after having his habeas corpus petition granted by a US judge. Until Thursday’s releases, he was the only exception to a ban on releasing any Yemenis that was imposed by President Obama in January 2010 (and was later reinforced by Congress), after a Nigerian man recruited in Yemen, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried and failed to blow up a plane from Europe to Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. Last May, President Obama dropped his ban on releasing any Yemenis, stating that their potential release would be looked at on a case by case basis, but it took until last Thursday for any of them to be released.

The release of these four Yemenis to Georgia and Slovakia strongly indicates that the entire US establishment’s aversion to releasing any Yemenis to their home country remains intact, which cannot be particularly reassuring for the 54 other Yemenis approved for release, because most third countries persuaded to take in former Guantánamo prisoners don’t take more than a handful.

18 other prisoners, from a variety of other countries, are also still held — one of whom is Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, whose ongoing imprisonment, while two other men were found new homes in Europe, is unforgivable. The only consolation is that, while President Obama is engaged in a flurry of releases — with perhaps ten more to follow — the injustice of Shaker Aamer’s omission stands out all the more strongly, as campaigners (myself included) have been making clear through the newly-launched campaign I am directing, called We Stand With Shaker (Facebook here, Twitter here and the campaign video here).

Below is information about the six men released last week; firstly, the three Yemenis released in Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, which took three former prisoners in March 2010.

The first of the three men is Salah Mohammed al-Thabi (ISN 572) aka Salah (or Saleh) al-Zabe, who is 42 years old, and was one of around 15 prisoners seized in a series of house raids in Karachi, Pakistan in February 2002, after traveling from Afghanistan where he had apparently been living with his family since 1999. As I explained in an article in January 2009:

The US authorities have maintained that they were all seized in a house belonging to Abdu Ali Sharqawi, a Yemeni known as Riyadh the Facilitator, who was apparently responsible for moving Arab recruits in and out of Afghanistan, but, as I report in The Guantánamo Files, a former interrogator in the US prisons in Afghanistan explained that they were actually “found in a couple of safe houses in an ethnically Arab district.” Nine of these prisoners — seemingly a mixture of foot soldiers and civilians — are discussed in Chapter 12 [of The Guantánamo Files], and these additional profiles also indicate that the “safe houses” were an impromptu system developed to help all Arabs evade capture by the opportunistic Pakistani authorities, and not just those who were connected with al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

In September 2004 the military recommended al-Thabi to be “transferred for continued detention to his country of origin (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) if a satisfactory agreement can be reached that allows access to detainee and/or access to exploited intelligence,” although in fact, although he was born in Saudi Arabia, he was a Yemeni citizen, and had never been given Saudi citizenship.

The second of the three is Abdel Ghalib Hakim, (ISN 686), who is 36 years old.

As I explained in an article in October 2010 describing nine men, of whom Hakim was one, and who, at the time, were still held:

[The] nine men were seized in a … house raid in Faisalabad on March 28, 2002, at the Crescent Mill guest house, also known as the “Issa house,” after its Pakistani owner (who was not seized) or the “Yemeni house,” because most of its inhabitants were Yemenis. Although the house was purported to have a connection to Abu Zubaydah [a purported “high-value detainee” seized in another raid on the same night], the majority of the 15 prisoners known to have been seized in the [Issa] raid have always maintained that they were students at the nearby Salafia University, or that they had traveled to Pakistan for cheap medical treatment, and that the house was a student guest house.

One of the prisoners, Salah Ahmed al-Salami, died in mysterious circumstances in Guantánamo on June 9, 2006 (on the night that two other men died in what was described as a triple suicide), and five others have been released. In May 2009, Judge Gladys Kessler, ruling on the habeas corpus petition of one of the five, Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, who described himself as a student, savaged the government for drawing on the testimony of witnesses whose unreliability was acknowledged by the authorities, and for attempting to create a “mosaic” of intelligence that was thoroughly unconvincing, and she also made a point of stating, “It is likely, based on evidence in the record, that at least a majority of the [redacted] guests were indeed students, living at a guest house that was located close to a university.”

Ali Ahmed was finally released [in] September [2009], and in the meantime another student in the house, Abdul Aziz al-Noofayee, a Saudi who stated that he had traveled to Pakistan to receive cheap medical treatment for a back problem, was released [in] June [2009], following the deliberations of President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force. In addition, two other Yemeni students, Mohammed Tahir and Fayad Yahya Ahmed, were released [in] December [2009].”

In July 2010, a sixth man, Mohammed Hassan Odaini, was also released, after his habeas corpus petition was granted by a US judge. He had only been visiting the house the night it was raised, but by the time he had his habeas petition granted the ban on releasing Yemenis had been imposed by President Obama and by Congress, and he was only released because his case was picked up by the media and threatened to embarrass the government if he was not freed.

In addition, as I explained at the time:

[An administration official] stated that the administration was prepared to release him because senior officials were “comfortable” with making an exception for him “because of the guy’s background, his family and where he comes from in Yemen,” thereby admitting that the perception of a prisoner’s family background is now more important than whether he is innocent or not.

Abdul Khaliq al-Baidhani, in a photo from the classified military files relating to the Guantanamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011.The third man is Abdul Khaled al-Baidani (ISN 553) aka Abdul Khaliq al-Baidhani, who is 31 years old. He was recommended for release by the military under President Bush in December 2006 and again by President Obama’s task force in 2009. He was only 18 when he was seized in Afghanistan, where, he said, he had traveled to undertake military training — although he arrived just before the 9/11 attacks, and never even got to visit a training camp.

The two men released in Slovakia follow three others released in January 2010, and another three in December 2013.

Both are recognizable names to anyone who has been following the story of Guantánamo closely — although not to anyone else. The Yemeni is Hussain (or Hussein) Almerfedi (ISN 1015), who is 36 years old (and was also identified as Hussein Salem Mohammed). He is one of dozens of the more unfortunate prisoners at Guantánamo in that he was held in secret CIA prisons prior to his transfer to Guantánamo.

In July 2010, a US judge in Washington D.C., District Judge Paul Friedman, granted his habeas corpus petition, and, as I explained at the time:

In Guantánamo, Almerfedi stated that he had been a student in Yemen, and had traveled to Pakistan in the hope of using members of Jamaat-al-Tablighi, an enormous missionary organization with headquarters in Pakistan, to help him emigrate to Europe. As the New York Times explained [after the habeas ruling,] he said “he left Yemen because life was intolerable there and that he wanted to go to Europe and seek asylum in a more open, Western society.”

When he found that the Tablighi organization was unable to help him, he “paid a smuggler to take him through Iran and into Turkey and then Greece,” but was seized in Tehran. He added that “he had never been in Afghanistan until the Iranians handed him over to the United States military.”

As I also explained:

In Guantánamo, Hussein Almerfedi also explained that he was held for a total of 14 months in three prisons in Afghanistan — “two under Afghan control and one under US control,” although he added that they all “seemed to be under US supervision.” One of these prisons was Bagram, and another was the “Dark Prison” near Kabul. Almerfedi stated that he was only interrogated on three occasions in Afghanistan, and that on each occasion he was told that the authorities knew he was innocent and would soon be released.

Hussein Almerfedi, in a photo from the classified military files relating to the Guantanamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011.Although Almerfedi’s habeas petition was granted, the government appealed, and won — in a ruling in June 2011 by a biased panel of judges in the D.C. Circuit Court, who, from 2009-11, made a number of rulings gutting habeas corpus of all meaning for the Guantánamo prisoners, for nakedly ideological reasons. I wrote about that ruling at the time, in an article entitled, “Judges Keep Guantánamo Open Forever.”

On his release, Brian Foster, a lawyer who helped represent him, said, as the New York Times described it, “that his client had initially been skeptical that he would be released, noting that a military review panel during the Bush administration, the Obama-era task force and the district court judge had all recommended his transfer.”

“It took him a long time, I think, to believe us,” Foster said. “This is a guy who has had his hopes raised and dashed so many times”

Hisham Sliti (ISN 174), who is 48 years old, was represented by the London-based legal action charity Reprieve, and clearly had nothing to do with either terrorism or militancy, although his story failed to convince District Judge Richard Leon, who refused to grant his habeas corpus petition in January 2009, apparently believing that he was associated with al-Qaeda.

As I explained at the time, calling Judge Leon’s conclusions “guilt by association”:

He may well have been connected with others who were involved in or interested in terrorism, but his own trajectory is that of a junkie rather than a jihadist, or, if you prefer, a tourist rather than a terrorist. Judge Leon disregarded Sliti’s own claim that he went to Afghanistan “to kick a long-standing drug habit and to find a wife,” but it was certainly true that he had been a drug addict in Europe (where he had been imprisoned in various countries on several occasions), and, as his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith has explained, he has a worldly cynicism that is fundamentally at odds with the fanatical rigor of al-Qaeda.

In his book The Eight O’Clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Fighting the Lawless World of Guantánamo Bay, Stafford Smith described Sliti reminiscing at length about the quality of the European prisons compared to Guantánamo. “In Italy the prison was wide open for six hours a day,” he explained. “You could have anything in your room — I had a little fornello, a gas cooker. Can you imagine the Americans allowing that? Here, we call a plastic spoon a ‘Camp Delta Kalashnikov,’ as the soldiers think we’re going to attack them with it.” And in a hearing at Guantánamo, Sliti recounted at length his various exploits in Europe, and told the board that he only ended up in Afghanistan because he had begun attending mosques in Belgium, where the country had been portrayed as “a clean, uncorrupted country where he could study Sharia and further his religious education,” but that what he found instead was that “I didn’t care for the country. It was very hot, dusty and [the] women were ugly. The atmosphere and environment didn’t agree with me.”

Hisham Sliti, in a photo from the classified military files relating to the Guantanamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011.In January 2010, Sliti was one of the prisoners recommended for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama appointed shortly after taking office, although this information was only publicly revealed by the Justice Department in September 2012.

After his release, his attorney, Cori Crider of Reprieve, said, “I first met Hisham seven years ago. He no more belonged in prison then than today. This is a welcome day, if long overdue, and Hisham is looking forward to rebuilding his life and starting a family. Let us hope that the dozens of other cleared men left in Gitmo will soon follow.”

The last man to be released, the Saudi, was Muhammed (or Muhammad) al-Zahrani (ISN 713), who is 44 or 45 years old, and was seized in a house raid in Lahore, Pakistan, at the end of March 2002. Recruited as a low-level foot soldier for the Taliban, al-Zahrani had been a cooperative prisoner, and his release was approved in November by a Periodic Review Board, which was confident that he would not pose any problem on his release, and would take part in Saudi Arabia’s well-established rehabilitation program.

The latest in a series of review processes throughout Guantánamo’s history, the PRBs were established to review the cases of 71 men, the majority of the prisoners who were not cleared for release by Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force. Nine have had their cases reviewed since last October, and the review boards — consisting of representatives of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, as well as the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — have approved the release of five men, while recommending the ongoing imprisonment of four others. One of those recommended for release — Fawzi al-Odah, a Kuwaiti — was freed three weeks ago, and Muhammed al-Zahrani is the second.

Saudi prisoner Muhammad-al-Zahrani, in a photo from Guantanamo included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.The fact that a man approved for release last month has been freed before others who were told the US no longer wanted to hold them at least five years ago is obviously unfair, but these releases inarguably constitute progress, and it is to be hoped that they continue in the weeks and months to follow — and that they include Shaker Aamer.

Prior to his abrupt resignation, defense secretary Chuck Hagel, who had apparently been dragging his heels on approving releases throughout most of 2014, “had notified Congress that he had approved 11 other detainee transfers,” according to the New York Times, including six men who, it is expected, will be given new homes in Uruguay. There is no word on Shaker Aamer, but at the We Stand With Shaker campaign we refuse to be deterred, and will be putting as much pressure as we can on both the British and American governments to end the farce of his ongoing imprisonment — while his fellow prisoners are found new homes in Europe — and to bring him home to his family in London. Please join us.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009 (out of the 532 released by President Bush), and the 89 prisoners released from February 2009 to November 5, 2014 (by President Obama), whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Filesand for the stories of the other 390 prisoners released by President Bush, see my archive of articles based on the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (herehere and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis; September 2007 –- 1 Mauritanian; September 2007 –- 1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans; November 2007 –- 14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (herehere and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians; July 2008 –- 1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; November 2008 –- 2 Algerians; November 2008 –- 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan) repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 —1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani), 4 Uighurs to Bermuda, 1 Iraqi, 3 Saudis (here and here); August 2009 — 1 Afghan (Mohamed Jawad), 2 Syrians to Portugal; September 2009 — 1 Yemeni, 2 Uzbeks to Ireland (here and here); October 2009 — 1 Kuwaiti, 1 prisoner of undisclosed nationality to Belgium; October 2009 — 6 Uighurs to Palau; November 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian to France, 1 unidentified Palestinian to Hungary, 2 Tunisians to Italian custody; December 2009 — 1 Kuwaiti (Fouad al-Rabiah); December 2009 — 2 Somalis4 Afghans6 Yemenis; January 2010 — 2 Algerians, 1 Uzbek to Switzerland1 Egyptian1 Azerbaijani and 1 Tunisian to Slovakia; February 2010 — 1 Egyptian, 1 Libyan, 1 Tunisian to Albania1 Palestinian to Spain; March 2010 — 1 Libyan, 2 unidentified prisoners to Georgia, 2 Uighurs to Switzerland; May 2010 — 1 Syrian to Bulgaria, 1 Yemeni to Spain; July 2010 — 1 Yemeni (Mohammed Hassan Odaini); July 2010 — 1 Algerian1 Syrian to Cape Verde, 1 Uzbek to Latvia, 1 unidentified Afghan to Spain; September 2010 — 1 Palestinian, 1 Syrian to Germany; January 2011 — 1 Algerian; April 2012 — 2 Uighurs to El Salvador; July 2012 — 1 Sudanese; September 2012 — 1 Canadian (Omar Khadr) to ongoing imprisonment in Canada; August 2013 — 2 Algerians; December 2013 — 2 Algerians2 Saudis2 Sudanese3 Uighurs to Slovakia; March 2014 — 1 Algerian (Ahmed Belbacha); May 2014 — 5 Afghans to Qatar (in a prisoner swap for US PoW Bowe Bergdahl); November 2014 — 1 Kuwaiti (Fawzi al-Odah).

10 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    So I’ve finally found the time to write about the six men released from ‪‎Guantanamo‬ in the last week. This is, I think, the most detailed account of their stories, based on my long years of research and writing about the prisoners. Congratulations to the Obama administration for pushing ahead with the release of prisoners, and to Slovakia and Georgia for taking in four Yemenis and a Tunisian, but releasing prisoners in Europe only serves to remind us that Shaker Aamer, from the UK, could also have been very easily sent home – an outcome we are demanding via the new campaign We Stand With Shaker: http://standwithshakeraamer.tumblr.com/

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    I also wrote:

    Photos of five of the six men freed accompany the article – all photos taken inside Guantanamo, and included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011, a project on which I worked as a media partner. The photo above is of Abdel Ghalib Hakim, a Yemeni, and one of 15 men seized in a guest house in Faisalabad, Pakistan in March 2002, which seemed mainly to contain students. One of the 15 died in the disputed “triple suicide” in June 2006, seven have now been freed, and seven still remain, including one, Emad Hassan, long cleared for release, who has been on a permanent hunger strike since 2007: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2014/02/19/the-guantanamo-experiment-a-harrowing-letter-by-yemeni-prisoner-emad-hassan/

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    When Barbara Cummings shared this on Facebook, she wrote:

    If there is a GOD, he loves Andy Worthington the best. TY, Andy.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    And thank YOU, Barbara, for those very kind words.

  5. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, thanks very much for this important article. I see lots of conservative Americans, both professional commentators, and ordinary alarmed right wing citizen commentators, voicing alarm over the release of these “terrorists”. I wish they would do the homework to realize that men like those captured in the foreign student’s residence, were not only not terrorists captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan, but had never even been to Afghanistan.

    Didn’t one of the later OARDEC memos reveal one of the formerly secret triggers for US analysts concerns over the men in the foreign residence? Wasn’t there a memo from a 2006 or 2007 “summary of evidence” that suggested the residents of the house should be seen as a threat, as potential jihadists, because genuine jihadists had sent the house unsolicted junk mail, encouraging them to go to Afghanistan, to fight the USA? Wasn’t the reasoning that, if jihadists felt it was worthwhile to spend a couple of rupees on a stamp, and some stationary, it was worthwhile for the USA to spend a couple of dozen millions of US dollars locking them up?

  6. arcticredriver says...

    With regard to Hisham Sliti being a junkie — you may remember that there was an attack on the Canadian Parliament buildings a couple of weeks ago. Some politicians, like Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the New Democratic Party, the current opposition, has questioned the rush to call the attack a “terrorist attack”. He has pointed out that while the attacker may have been a muslim, who had become more devout in recent years, he was also a fierce addict to opiates, who showed clear signs serious mental health problems.

    His faith in Islam had not been enough to help him quit using opiates.

    A year or two ago, he committed a petty crime, pled guilty, and told the judge he wanted a sentence of at least a year — because he hoped that when he was in prison, he’d get the help he needed to quit his addiction. Unfortunately, he was given a suspended sentence. I am afraid it says something sad about the Canadian system that an addict who wanted to quit was reduced to committing a crime so he could get the help he needed in prison. A year of prison is a considerable sacrifice to quit drugs, and certainly showed his seriousness. So far as I know, no journalist has gone back and asked that judge if, in retrospect, he regretted not giving the man the sentence he asked for.

    As I recall, from the OARDEC transcripts, several of the Arabs in Guantanamo were men with mental health problems, either organic, or due to head injuries. Didn’t several of them tell the officers reviewing their status that they didn’t really want to go to Afghanistan, to fight for the Taliban, but they had no choice? I thought several of them acknowledged being too mentally ill to hold a job back home, and described coming from families with little patience or tolerance, who drove them go to Afghanistan — paraphrasing “You are too crazy, too much trouble, you are a worthless mouth, and we don’t want you to stay at home anymore. We have booked travel for you to go to Afghanistan, to fight with the Taliban, and be a martyr. We wipe our hands of you. At least if you die there, we will have something we can tell our neighbours that won’t shame us.”

    I feel sorry for those with mental health issues who live in a milieu with no understanding, sympathy, etc, for mental health issues, who see those who have them as cursed, and uncurable. If there was some way to get some of these individuals some mental health care, or even some hope that their situations could improve, with some mental health care, I think it could reduce the number of individuals who show up, volunteering for jihad.

    Zacarias Moussaoui — weren’t there reports that he too had mental health issues, before he ever sought out al Qaeda?

    I suspect that some of the heartless families that turn their backs on the family members with schizophrenia, etc, and tell them the only thing they are good for, is to die fighting an infidel, aren’t particular religious, they just can’t imagine any way to get out of the burden of carrying for someone whose mental health issues mean they can’t care for themselves.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. It was refreshing to see prisoners released, and to return to the kind of writing I did so much of in 2007 and 2008 in particular, when prisoners were being released and I wanted to make sure their stories were told fairly. Your comments about Conservative commentators just serve to confirm how the quality of the discourse has actually degenerated since that time, and, because of political maneuvering and the baleful effect of those distorted recidivism reports, it is considered appropriate to relentlessly use the short-hand “terrorists” for the Guantanamo prisoners when that’s seriously not accurate at all.
    You are right about the jihadist junk mail the house received. I also do urge people to look very closely at Judge Kessler’s ruling in May 2009 in the case of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, one of those seized in the house (and subsequently freed after Judge Kessler granted his habeas petition), which I discussed in two articles at the time: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2009/05/14/judge-condemns-mosaic-of-guantanamo-intelligence-and-unreliable-witnesses/

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver, for the thoughtful comments. It is clear that many of the prisoners had/have serious mental health problems – and it may be that some of them had families who wanted to get rid of them, although I wouldn’t underestimate the drive to jihad on the part of some clerics and movers behind the scenes, who, like our own military-industrial complex, and our leaders in general, love sacrificing young lives for their own dark purposes.
    I do agree, though, that it must be very difficult in places that don’t have any tradition of counselling for many mental health issues to be addressed.

  9. arcticredriver says...

    Greetings Andy!

    Have you seen the sad news that has emerged about Hisham Sliti? Police burst into his room, or his apartment, late at night, and arrested him.

    Here is a brief article about the incident from an English language slovak publication. Here are one two articles in Slovakian and the (temporary) google translations:
    * Police refutes Al-Jazeera on torture
    * Slovakia vulnerable to terrorist attack: Secret VIDEO kukláči to which we pay the kruto

    What exact offense is he guilty of? The translations being so poor it is hard to say. It might only be that the refugee centre he lives in has a curfew, and he was late. If the strain of a dozen years in detention, followed by release in a strange land, drove him back to drugs, being late for curfew isn’t that surprising.

    But, no doubt, the DIA will use this arrest to add him to the list of “recidivists”.

    Have you seen the video of his arrest that Al Jazeera is said to have acquired and rebroadcast? I can’t find it. I wonder if was taken by the other former Guantanamo captive given asylum in Slovakia?

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi arcticredriver,
    Thanks for the info. I’m on the last day of my holiday, and still largely living an old school life without much internet access! Not that a search has turned up anything on this story in English. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there’s any follow-up. Certainly, if there was anything to report, Reprieve would know about it. I find it implausible that Hisham has any involvement in anything to do with terrorism, but it’s certainly possible that he would react to any lack of care on the part of the Slovak authorities, who, as you will recall, didn’t do a great job with the three men freed in 2010. It’s also possible that he could have been in touch with relatives or friends regarded as suspicious by the US authorities, or by other countries reporting to the US.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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