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Transfer from Guantánamo Bay: The case of Abdulsalam Abdulhadi Omar as-Safrani

Into Enemy Hands, pp. 118-119
Human Rights Watch
September 2012

He said the 18-hour transit [from Kandahar] to Guantanamo [in the winter of 2002] was rough. He was transported with a large group. Their heads were shaven and they were dressed in orange jumpsuits, hooded, and required to wear headphones and black glasses to block sound and sight. Safrani was only told he was being taken to a US Navy base but not told where. He only later figured out he was in Guantanamo. He was given a blanket, toothbrush, and towel and then put in a cell that was about 2 x 1 meters, where he was held for the next three months. It had a wooden ceiling, held up by four pipes from each corner of the room, mesh walls, and a concrete floor. There was no toilet in the cell, just a bucket.

After about three months, he was moved by bus to another detention facility at Guantanamo, where he was detained for the next five years. He described this facility as a hangar, with galvanized steel walls and a slanted roof. His cell was about the same size as his prior one—the main difference being the walls were not mesh and the lights were on 24 hours per day. The Americans also played voices and sounds over a loudspeaker between 7 a.m. and about 1 p.m. and would sometimes bang on the galvanized steel sheets to make noise. This prevented him from sleeping and occurred almost daily for the entire five years he was there.

He said US guards beat him on several occasions, once fracturing his shoulder. Another time guards used “a hose, putting water on our faces, so you feel like drowning.” The International Committee of the Red Cross visited him on several occasions, and he heard from his family by letter for the first time three years into his detention. Safrani said that when the US personnel deemed him uncooperative, he was put in a room that was extremely cold. The air conditioning was turned on high and the Americans interrogated him the entire time. He was in the cell 20 to 30 times, and the longest time he spent in the room was 30 days [Note 365].

He said that over time, conditions improved. He was allowed to participate in sports about two to three times weekly in the beginning, and then eventually daily. The rule eventually became that detainees were to get up to 30 minutes of exercise per day, but often he was only allowed five minutes, which he said was a form of punishment.

Transfer and Treatment in Libya

When Safrani learned he was being returned to Libya, he asked his captors for asylum or resettlement in a third country. This request was denied, and on December 15, 2006, he was transferred to Libya [Note 366]. He was initially held in Tajoura for six months, then moved to al Nasser bureau for approximately 45 days, and finally to Abu Salim prison until his release.

He said he was physically abused while detained in Libya. He said the Libyan authorities used electrical shocks several times on his hands, legs, and sensitive areas of his body. He was whipped on his back, kicked, punched, and slapped. He suffered pain from a toothache and was denied pain relief for one year. After several years of detention, Safrani was charged with being a member of LIFG and al Qaeda. He was appointed a lawyer and was in court about three or four times. Ultimately he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He was released on August 24, 2011 after the fall of Gaddafi.

 

Notes

365. The first time he was in the cell was for 5 days, then 10 days. The longest amount of time was 30 days.

366. Safrani did not know his exact date of transfer, but Guantanamo records indicated it was on December 15, 2006. See “The Guantanamo Docket,” New York Times, http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/country/libya (accessed May 27, 2012).

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