Tuesday, January 15, 2008

EXCLUSIVE…Brother of Jailed Cameraman Sami Al-Haj Says Continued Gitmo Imprisonment Part of U.S. “Political Operation Against Al Jazeera”

An Excellent Interview
Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"AMY GOODMAN: It has been six years since the US set up the prison at Guantanamo in the so-called “war on terror.” Over 800 men and boys, so-called "enemy combatants,” have been held without charge at Guantanamo since January 11, 2002. Not one of these prisoners has been put on trial. Hundreds have been released without charge after years in detention. Four prisoners have committed suicide; many others have tried to do so. Today, 275 people are still imprisoned at Guantanamo.

We turn now to the case of one of these prisoners. His name is Sami Al-Haj. He’s thirty-eight years old, an Al Jazeera cameraman, arrested in Pakistan, December 2001, while traveling to Afghanistan for work with Al Jazeera. He was transferred to US custody, flown to Bagram Air Base—six months later, flown to Guantanamo Bay. He’s been in prison there without charge ever since. Sami Al-Haj has been on hunger strike since January 7th of last year. He’s believed to be in deteriorating health.

I just spoke to Sami Al-Haj’s younger brother, Asim Al-Haj, from Khartoum, Sudan, in this exclusive interview. Asim Al-Haj spoke in Arabic, with translation provided by Fuad Yahya.

ASIM AL-HAJ: [translated] Before I make my statement, I would like to say that Sami Al-Haj is a victim of a political operation against Al Jazeera, which Washington does not approve of. And as evidence of this is the fact that he was interrogated 130 times. And during these times, the interrogations were all about Al Jazeera and alleged relations between Al Jazeera and al-Qaeda.

They tried to induce him to work as a spy for American intelligence in return for US citizenship for him and for his family and to help him even write a book, on the condition that he would spy on his colleagues at Al Jazeera. For example, if you look at the allegation that he was involved in sales of rockets or missiles to Afghanistan, I mean, how could a reporter or a media person traveling to a country he’s never been to before carry this? Would he carry these in his luggage or what?......"

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