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Sami Al Haj Freed From Guantanamo

Al Jazeera Press Release


DOHA, 2 May 2008: Al Jazeera is pleased to declare that Sami al Haj, their cameraman who has been held for six years in Guantanamo Bay, has finally been released from American military custody and has returned to Sudan.  After six years without due process and over a year on hunger strike, Sami's release marks the end of a painful and tragic period for his family, friends and colleagues around the world.

 

Commenting on the release, Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of the Al Jazeera Network stated, "We are extremely relieved that our friend and colleague Sami has been released from Guantanamo Bay.  Our thoughts are with him and his family at this moment of great joy.  Al Jazeera would like to thank all of those involved in the effort to secure Sami's release."

 

Sami was detained on December 15, 2001 by Pakistani border authorities when attempting to cross into Afghanistan on assignment for Al Jazeera.  He was transferred to American military custody, and after one year, was placed in Guantanamo Bay.  As the only journalist detained in Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant, Sami was held without clear charges and without open and transparent legal hearings.

 

With no due process and no end in sight, Sami started a hunger strike on January 7, 2007 to protest his illegal detention.  According to Sami's attorney, he lost significant weight and was facing a variety of serious health ailments at the time of his release. When Sami landed in Sudan he was unable to walk by himself and needed immediate medical attention.

 

The support for Sami's cause has been overwhelming, and Al Jazeera is sincerely grateful for the efforts of Sami's attorney Clive Stafford Smith and his colleagues, and to all the other organizations, journalists and individuals who were moved to action by Sami's plight.

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