Adel Fattough Ali al Gazzar

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Adel Fattough Ali al Gazzar spent just two hours in Afghanistan volunteering with the Red Crescent before he was seriously injured in a US airstrike. He was sold to US forces for a bounty and held in Guantánamo Bay for nearly a decade.

Adel was released to Slovakia in 2010. He returned to Egypt in 2011 to reunite with his mother, wife and children, but was arrested and imprisoned.

Adel travelled to Pakistan in 2000. After war broke out in Afghanistan, he learned of the many families displaced. Wanting to do what he could to help them, Adel signed up with the Red Crescent and volunteered to go into Afghanistan to work with the refugees. Within two hours of crossing the border to a refugee camp, the area was hit by a US airstrike. Adel was badly injured and his leg was amputated.

He was sold from his hospital bed to US forces for a bounty, taken to Kandahar prison and tortured. The torture routine at Kandahar included severe beatings, exposure to freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation for days on end, and the suspension of prisoners by their wrists from the ceilings.

Adel was tortured for eleven days before being taken to Guantánamo Bay. Realising their mistake, the US authorities cleared him for release almost immediately, but he spent eight years waiting for a safe country to offer him refuge. Adel was finally released in 2010.

However, his release from Guantánamo did not equal freedom. He was transferred to Slovakia where he was held in an immigration detention centre for more than six months. Though he had done nothing wrong and had been completely exonerated by the Americans, Adel was freed only after going on a hunger strike in protest at his unlawful detention.

Adel wanted nothing more than to return to Egypt. He had not seen his family, including his wife and four children, for a decade. A few months later, he watched along with the rest of the world as revolution broke out in Egypt, and he was finally able to make plans to return home to his family.

Excited by the prospect of a new, democratic Egypt, Adel went home, but was arrested upon his arrival at the airport on false, politically-motivated charges. He was allowed only a brief reunion with his wife and four children before being imprisoned.

Adel is appealing his sentence, which was handed down in 2002, at a trial conducted in his absence. While his fate was being decided, Adel sat languishing in Guantánamo, completely unaware of what was happening back in Cairo. He had no legal representation at the trial and the so-called ‘evidence’ used against him consisted of false statements tortured out of other prisoners facing similar charges. While many of his co-defendants were deemed innocent after a judicial ruling that the statements relied on by the military prosecutor were false, Adel was not so lucky. Because of his status as a Guantánamo prisoner – the ‘worst of the worst’, according to the Bush administration – Adel was an easy target for the military court, and with no legal defence, the charges against him stuck.

Due to the flimsiness of his conviction, Adel’s lawyers are confident that his Mubarak-era sentence will be overturned on appeal.

Adel’s reward for wanting to help others has been illegal imprisonment in four different countries. Reprieve continues to call for his release and safe return to his beloved family.

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