Mohammed was among the youngest prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. Abducted and rendered to the prison camp at just 14 years old, he was held there without charge or trial for seven years. Reprieve lawyers secured a federal court judgment ordering his release in January 2009.
Mohammed grew up in Saudi Arabia, after his parents immigrated from Chad in search of a better life. He suffered discrimination as a Chadian, and was denied schooling, so he went to Pakistan to learn English and computer studies. While praying in a mosque, he was rounded up and arrested by Pakistani police and handed over to US forces.
Mohammed was taken to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, where he was kept naked for days and racially abused. One of the first words that Mohammed learnt in English was “nigger.”
After two months of detention in Afghanistan, Mohammed was transferred to Guantánamo Bay. Mohammed’s US captors abused him so badly that he tried to commit suicide twice while in Guantánamo.
Although only a child, Mohammed was abused in the same way as the other prisoners. He was deprived of sleep and repeatedly moved between cells to prevent him from resting. He was kept in freezing conditions and constantly blasted with music and strobe lights. The guards slammed Mohammed’s head to the floor, knocking out two teeth. An interrogator stubbed out his cigarette on his arm.
He was falsely accused of fighting for the Taliban in Tora Bora and being a member of a London-based al-Qaeda cell. He had never visited either Afghanistan or the UK. The evidence used to keep Mohammed in Guantánamo Bay for seven and a half years was based purely on statements from two other prisoners. Their claims were later found to be unreliable and inconsistent with each other.
Reprieve lawyers helped Mohammed fight his ‘enemy combatant’ status. In 2009 we won a court order for his release.
“I am free now. I enjoy being free… freedom is beautiful.”
– Mohammed el Gharani
Read about Reprieve’s unique Life After Guantánamo program here.