Mohammed el Gharani
Mohammed el Gharani was was abducted and taken to Guantánamo Bay at just 14 years old. He was held and abused there for seven years without charge or trial.
Mohammed lost a third of his life to Guantánamo before Reprieve lawyers were able to secure his release in 2009.
“I am free now. I enjoy being free… freedom is beautiful.”
Mohammed el Gharani
After he was abducted, 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, he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay. Mohammed’s US captors abused him so badly that he tried to commit suicide twice while in Guantánamo.
“Instead of spending his teenage years in school, Mohammed was forced to try to survive in a military prison. Never once did the US treat Mohammed like the child he was. Reprieve hopes that now he has been released, Mohammed will be able to get the education he was denied for so long, and finally build a life for himself.”
Reprieve’s Cori Crider
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.
Mohammed is a Chadian citizen, but grew up in Saudi Arabia. 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.
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.
He was returned to Chad, where he was born, later that year. Since then, Mohammed has been making steady progress with the help of Reprieve’s Life After Guantánamo team.
Mohammed missed out on an education, but he loves reading, particularly about history, and was keen to learn as much as possible after his release. In 2009 hundreds of Reprieve supporters responded by sending books to Mohammed in Chad.