Monday, October 18, 2021

A Prisoner’s Plea to Ever Be Laid to Rest

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“We want justice,” Faiz al-Odah said quietly.

The 49-year-old Egyptian arrived in JFK Airport on Wednesday after spending much of his 15 years in a dungeon at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. He had pleaded guilty to terrorism charges earlier this year, but those pleas have been revoked. He walked out of the room with a military escort that had been shadowing him all day, with no word on his future.

“I want to return to my country, but I can’t return to my country without knowing my fate,” he said. “My family needs me, my lawyer needs me, the president needs me. I have not received an answer.”

The former bread boy sat alongside many of his former Guantánamo Bay detainee colleagues, their arms and legs shackled, as they waited for word about their fates. Many refused to say anything when asked about their living conditions inside Guantánamo, a place where abuses have been perpetrated and detainees’ rights squandered. Owing to the secrecy of the prison, many have experienced psychological torture that no civilized person would tolerate.

Mr. Odah hugged his wife. But there were clearly difficult feelings still lingering.

“I didn’t make any attacks against the United States; I’m innocent,” he said.

Odah had pleaded guilty to being an al-Qaeda operative who plotted to attack targets in Egypt.

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