Submitted by Sheldon Rampton on
"For the past five years," Sami al-Haj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera, "has been the only journalist known to be held in Guantánamo Bay," reports Rachel Morris. Al-Haj was originally detained in December 2001 while trying to cross the border into Afghanistan with a team of other journalists. After examining his case, Morris can find little evidence to justify his detention. His wife and journalists who worked with al-Haj describe him as "a very kind-hearted person" who "was very particular about his work" and "just seemed like a young kid trying to get his big break" but "was detained at a moment when distrust of Al Jazeera was accumulating rapidly at the highest levels of the American government." The specific charges against him have changed over time. At one point military officials said he "had gone to Afghanistan to buy Stinger missiles to fight in Chechnya, a charge that has since been dropped." Other charges are impossible to assess because the government says its information against him is classified and cannot be reviewed even by al-Haj or his attorney, Stafford Smith. According to Smith, al-Haj "has been interrogated approximately 130 times. Roughly 125 of those sessions, he said, dealt not with the allegations but with Al Jazeera’s operations."