Doha red carpet awaits Sami al-Hajj

Al Jazeera cameraman released from Guantanamo Bay to be feted on Saturday.

    Al-Hajj received support from journalists around
    the world during his detention [EPA]

    "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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