GUANTANAMO DIARY

Just been reading a review of GUANTANAMO DIARY by Mohamedu Ould Slahi. Incarcerated without trial since 2001, he was first held in a prison in Jordan, then after seven months of interrogation he was stripped, blindfolded, shackled and flown to a US airbase in Afghanistan. A fortnight later he was shipped to Guantanamo Bay. So begins a nightmare story worthy of Kafka. Thirteen years later he remains in a segregation cell some 4000 miles from his home in Mauritania. He has never been charged with a crime.

His handwritten manuscript was written nearly a decade ago, all 466 pages, after months of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. It took years for his lawyers to obtain the declassified diary. Slahi asks regularly during interrogations, ‘what am I accused of?’. He never receives a straight answer, and his efforts to tell the truth only anger;

Looks like a dog

walks like a dog

smells like a dog

barks like a dog

must be a dog

In the end he resorts to false confessions to end the torment. He lives in abject terror, suffering sleep deprivation, sexual assaults, beatings and threats against his mother’s life and his own. He is forced to drink salt water, and convinced he will be murdered.

Before the manuscript was released, US government censors pored over it, adding 2,500 black bar redactions. A federal judge ordered his release in 2010 but after 4 years he is still locked up. Why?  A must-read for me.

GUANTANAMO DIARY  Canongate £20

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