Innocent, 5 years in Guantánamo

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I received the latest Amnesty International Magazine in the mail, and was about to recycle it immediately (I have enough to read this week), when the cover story caught my eye: “Guantánamo / 5 Years of My Life: An Innocent Survivor’s Tale”

The article’s chilling. Murat Kurnaz, a 19-year-old Turkish-German ex-nightclub bouncer from Bremen, was visiting Pakistan in 2001. Shortly after 9/11, he was abducted by the Pakistani government, and sold to the U.S. military in return for a $3000 bounty. He spent months in a secret American prison in Afghanistan, where he was interrogated and tortured by American and German soldiers:

“They prepared me for interrogations by putting electric shocks through my feet. For hours on end they would hang me up by my hands, which were bound behind my back in different positions—and then a break, and then you would be hung up again. A doctor looked in to see if you were still alive. The interrogator came at midday every day, and then you would be taken down for a short while.”

Kurnaz heard that he might be taken home to Turkey; instead, he was transferred to Guantánamo, where he spent the next five years of his life, from ages 19 to 24, caged, interrogated, and tortured.

“Camp Delta consisted of container blocks, every block had 48 cells and the cages were made of chicken wire with a bed, toilet and washbasin at knee height…Shortly after the first visit from the Germans, new rules were put in place. For almost seven weeks, I was relocated every two hours. They did that so that you could not sleep…As soon as they saw that you were asleep, they shook the cell doors. On top of that came interrogations that lasted for more than 50 hours.”

The Department of Defense’s internal documents indicate that Kurnaz had been cleared of suspicion in 2002. He wasn’t released for another four years. What kind of justice…?

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