Samir Naji Mukbel

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Samir was rendered to Guantánamo Bay in January 2002, on the first plane to deliver prisoners to the detention facility.

He was abducted on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan after requesting consular assistance when his passport was stolen. He was held in prison for two months before being handed over to US forces.

Samir was finally released to Oman in January 2016 after being held without charge or trial for 14 years.

In 2013, Samir joined a mass hunger strike in peaceful protest at his indefinite detention. He undergoes painful force-feeding sessions twice a day, and in April 2013, he wrote about the torture of his imprisonment and abuse for the New York Times. It became the most-read article on their site that day. He has told his Reprieve lawyers how detainees have been moved to the notoriously punishing Camp VI “to break the determination of the hunger strikers.” He says that the Colonel in charge has told them that “Any person who continues on the hunger strike will be moved to solitary confinement and will be removed from communal areas.” Samir also helped to expose the new force-feeding guidelines at the prison.

“President Obama and President Hadi must finally un-stick the Gitmo issue when they sit down this week. Guantánamo is a big, sharp thorn in the side of US-Yemeni relations – Yemenis are by far the largest group left there, and have been in limbo for years. Meanwhile things are only getting worse at the base for Yemenis like Samir, whose blood was shed just because he peaceably refused to give up his toothbrush. He’s been compliant throughout his detention and has repeatedly said he would sign whatever it takes to go home to his family”
Reprieve’s Strategic Director, Cori Crider

Samir was born and raised in Yemen. Earning very little from his factory job, a childhood acquaintance persuaded him that better jobs were available in Afghanistan. Samir quickly realised his mistake, but was trapped – he had no money for a ticket home.

His acquaintance told him he would be given a house, a wife and money if he joined the Taliban. But Samir had no intention of doing so. “I did not come to lose my life,” he told his acquaintance, who vanished, taking Samir’s passport with him.

In October 2001, after hearing gunfire and seeing military planes overhead, Samir fled to the Pakistan boarder. When he asked the guards for consular assistance, he was abducted, held for two months, and handed over to US forces.

I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.

Samir has never been charged with a crime.

He is worried about his parents’ health, and wishes only to return to them and his family. He stopped sending letters to them because he does not believe that they were delivered, but he has recently resumed in the hope that some might reach his family eventually.

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