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Guantanamo Bay guard, prisoner to be interviewed

Davis Enterprise
Enterprise Staff
April 27, 2010

Radio host Amy Goodman will interview a former Guantanamo Bay detention center guard and prisoner at 8 p.m. Friday at UC Davis.

The event, “Guantanamo: a Conversation This Side of the Wire,” is sponsored by the UC Davis-based Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas.

Tickets are $10, $5 in advance for students. Funds raised will support the center's Guantánamo Testimonials Project, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Goodman, the host of “Democracy Now!,” will interview former guard Brandon Neely in person. Last year, he provided lengthy, detailed accounts of alleged abuses, including the participation of medical personnel, that he witnessed to the center and the Associated Press.

There's been a change in the planned program: Goodman also was scheduled to interview Al Jazeera journalist Sami Elhaj, who was held at Gitmo for about six years, live via video conference from Qatar. However, Elhaj has been hospitalized and will not be able to take part, according to Almerindo Ojeda, who runs the center.

Instead, Goodman will interview Omar Deghayes, a Libyan citizen with British residency, who was arrested after moving to Pakistan in 2002. He eventually was held until December 2007, when he was released at the request of the British government, without ever being charged with a crime.

During his captivity, he took part in a hunger strike, and his family, which led a campaign for his release, made public claims of abuse at the hands of guards and interrogators in Pakistan, Afghanistan and later at Gitmo.

Upon arriving in London, Deghayes was to be extradited to Spain for his alleged role in al-Qaida activities there.

A Spanish judge ruled he was unfit to stand trial, because he was suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression. He also was found to be blind in one eye (which Deghayes says happened when a guard gouged his eye), with a broken nose and finger.

Limited seating for the UCD event is available. Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at (530) 752-1915, or in person either at Freeborn Hall or the Davis Farmers' Market.

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