Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Prisoner 345

The Columbia Journalism Review has a good story that looks at the unique case of the only journalist known to be in custody at Guatanamo Bay. His name is Sami al-Haj and he used to work for Al Jazeera.

It's a balanced piece that asks some hard questions about what's going on in Cuba without taking sides. But it's a disturbing story and one that can't help be leave you wondering what's happening. And as with so many of these stories, it seems that the families are the ones who really end up struggling to cope.
On December 15, 2001, early in the morning on the last day of Ramadan, a reporter and a cameraman from Al Jazeera arrived at the Pakistani town of Charman on the Afghanistan border, on their way to cover the American military operation. The reporter, Abdelhaq Sadah, was replacing a colleague, but the cameraman, a Sudanese national named Sami al-Haj, had been on such an assignment before, and had crossed the border without incident. This time, however, an immigration official stopped him. He seemed angry. The official told Sadah that he could go, but "your friend is a wanted man and will stay here."

In Sadah’s recollection, the official produced a letter from Pakistani intelligence—written, curiously, in English. It said that al-Haj had Al Qaeda ties and should be apprehended. Al-Haj noticed that the passport number in the letter didn’t correspond to the one in his current passport, but instead to an old passport he had lost several years ago in Sudan and had reported missing. Despite his protests, the official insisted on detaining him overnight. The next morning, Sadah returned to the border post just in time to see a Pakistani military officer lead al-Haj to a car and drive him away.
He hasn't been seen since.

Here's the link.

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