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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Al Jazeera journalist liberated from Guantanamo

Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Hajj, also known as Prisioner 345, has been detained in the US concentration camp for more than five years. He was liberated after 465 days in hunger strike (since January 2007, he was force-fed)..

He was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 when working, fully documented, for the Qatari public network Al Jazeera. He was accused of arbitary and unproven "terrorist activities", obvious made-up accusations like working for a beverage company that allegedly financed militants in Bosnia and Chechnya. In all lights it was a punishment attempt against Al Jazeera for breaking US media censorship and talking of the other side of the "war on terror". He has rejected all charges and never brought before any court.

His brother could not recognized him at first because he looked "like a man in his 80s" (he is 39 in fact).

He was hospitalized as soon as he arrived to Khartoum. But from hospital he has conceded some interviews:

I'm very happy to be in Sudan, but I'm very sad because of the situation of our brothers who remain in Guantanamo. Conditions in Guantanamo are very, very bad and they get worse by the day.

Our human condition, our human dignity was violated, and the American administration went beyond all human values, all moral values, all religious values.

In Guantanamo ... rats are treated with more humanity. But we have people from more than 50 countries that are completely deprived of all rights and privileges.

And they will not give them the rights that they give to animals.

He was liberated along with other detainess, in what seems an attempt of the Bush administration to get rid of as many prisioners as possible before the end of the current presidential term. His lawyer, David Remes, denounced that there was an element of racism in the way al-Hajj had been treated. The Europeans would never receive this treatment, he said.

For further information:
- Al Jazeera: Sami al-Hajj hits out at US captors.
- Wikipedia: Sami al-Hajj.
- Prisioner 345: Campaign to free Sami al-Hajj, held in Guantanamo.

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