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Journalist Released After 11 Months in US Detention


A young Afghan journalist, Jawed Ahmad, just spent 11 horrific months in US military detention at an air base near Kabul, Afghanistan. Almost a year ago, a press officer from an American military base asked him to come talk. Assuming it was for business, the reporter went to a base, where he was then surrounded by 15 people, dropped to the floor, and taken to prison. They accused him of having contacts with and supplying weapons to the Taliban. He explained that the contacts were a result of his journalism, but he was still flown to the Bagram air base, where the US holds 600 prisoners defined as unlawful combatants.

Jawed sat down with BBC to talk about his experience. Here are some excerpts.

  • After being flown to the detention base, "they stood me in snow for six hours. It was too cold — I had no socks, no shoes, nothing. I became unconscious two times."
  • "For nine days they didn't allow me sleep. I didn't eat anything — it was a very tough time for me."
  • Guards told him: "you know what? . . . There is no right of journalists in this war."

For more of Jawed's account, read more.

  • Jawed says he was put into solitary confinement after the New York Times wrote about his incarceration.
  • Other prisoners told Jawed that the guards mishandled the Koran. "They didn't do it only one time, not two times, they did it more than 100 times. They have thrown it, they have torn it, they have kicked it."

Just today, newly released documents suggest that in 2002, senior White House officials played a central role in deliberating whether the CIA could legally use harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. Hopefully the US will take steps to investigate its potential use of torture, and Jawed's disheartening claims, as such actions cannot help the US's position in the Middle East.

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