Lakhdar Boumediene puts a human face on a landmark Supreme Court case about detainees’ rights in a time of terror, in a New York Times op-ed entitled “My Guantanamo Nightmare.”
Boumediene, a Bosnian citizen, was held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 2002 to 2009. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in his case that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay may challenge their detention in U.S. courts, and in 2009, a federal judge ordered Boumediene’s release.
Boumediene, who protests that “I have never been a terrorist,” writes about his incarceration:
“Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children’s lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.”
When he and five others were seized by American agents, “We were tied up like animals” and flown to Guantanamo, Boumediene writes. Once there, “I was kept awake for many days straight. I was forced to remain in painful positions for hours at a time.” He conducted a hunger strike and was force-fed.
He was released after the government abandoned its claim of a terror plot, shortly before a judge could hear his case. He is grateful for his new life in Provence, France, but has “memories [that] are filled with pain” and also concern for 171 men who remain at the military prison:
“I’m told that my Supreme Court case is now read in law schools. Perhaps one day that will give me satisfaction, but so long as Guantánamo stays open and innocent men remain there, my thoughts will be with those left behind in that place of suffering and injustice.”