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Middle East
Doha red carpet awaits Sami al-Hajj
Al Jazeera cameraman released from Guantanamo Bay to be feted on Saturday.
Last Modified: 30 May 2008 22:01 GMT
Al-Hajj received support from journalists around
the world during his detention [EPA]
Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera cameraman released from Guantanamo Bay earlier this month, is set to return to Qatar.
 
Al-Hajj will be accorded a public reception by the news network on arriving in Doha on Saturday.
 
He spent six years in the US detention centre without being formally charged.
Waddah Khanfar, the director general of Al Jazeera, said: "Through these 'Celebrations of Freedom', Al Jazeera honours the sacrifices of our sons and daughters in different fields of work, and the value of freedom after paying a heavy price.
"It is a message of support to our colleagues… a triumph of freedom".
 
Reception
 

Al Jazeera has extended a public invitation to all citizens and residents of Qatar to participate in the reception in the Matar al-Qadim [old airport] district of Doha, at 6pm (16:00 GMT).


The network will also host a similar ceremony for its staff and their families to honour al-Hajj at Al Jazeera's headquarters at 8pm (18:00 GMT).

Al-Hajj returned to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, his native country, from Guantanamo Bay on May 2.

Al Jazeera and the Organisation of Sudanese Civil Aid held a ceremony at that time for him and two other freed Sudanese nationals entitled "Freedom Wedding".

The ceremony was attended among others by Mustafa Osman Ismail, adviser to Omar Hassan Bashir, the Sudanese president, and Khanfar.
 

Torture

Al-Hajj has said that during his long captivity, he was subjected to various kinds of psychological and physical torture.

 

This included US troops tearing and desecrating the Quran.

He said that soldiers forced detainees in the camp to break Islamic fasts and often assaulted them.

 

Al-Hajj said he was subjected to 130 interrogation sessions, 95 of them to probe the professional work he did for Al Jazeera.

 

He accused the US administration of pressuring him to "betray" his profession and work as a spy.

During his imprisonment, al-Hajj went on hunger strike for nearly 16 months to protest against his detention without trial and the treatment of the camp's detainees.

 

The US administration has said that it doubts al-Hajj's credibility.

 

Guantanamo Bay has been run by the US as a detention centre for "enemy combatants" and those considered a security threat since 2002.

 

Although more than 500 prisoners have been released from the camp, about 250 people still remain at the detention facility.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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