Monday, 19 January 2009

'Let freed Guantanamo journalist into UK'

The NUJ is calling for an Al-Jazeera video journalist, who was detained for seven years at the US Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba, to be allowed entry to Britain.
It is urging that Sami El-Haj be given a visa to take part in a speaking tour about his experiences in Guantanamo, which is expected to be closed by President-elect Barack Obama.
The Sudan-born journalist was a video reporter for the Al-Jazeera TV news channel when he was seized by American forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and taken to Guantanamo. The union claims he was was tortured and brutally force-fed through several hunger strikes.
Sami El-Haj was released last summer and returned to Al-Jazeera in Qatar to resume his career, as a programme producer. In December he was invited to join a speaking tour in the UK organised by the group Cageprisoners and sponsored by the peer Lord Ahmed but the union says the British Embassy is refusing him a visa.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has written to the embassy, stating: “Journalists around the world campaigned for Sami while he was locked up and mistreated in Guantanamo. Now we want to be able to hear his story directly from him, and so should anyone else."

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