MSNBC’s Chris Hayes conducted a harrowing interview on his Saturday show with Lakhdar Boumediene, a former Guantanamo prisoner, who was innocent, yet jailed by the Bush Administration for seven years.
Hayes spoke to Boumediene via satellite and through an Arabic translator; Boumediene now lives in the south of France with his family. Before the interview, he played footage of President Obama saying he was going to close the Guantanamo prison. He called the tape “very hard to watch right now,” since the prison remains indefinitely open, and since Obama has expressed his support for detaining people without trial there.
Boumediene told Hayes that, when he was captured, he assumed it was all a mistake.
“I thought that America was a great country,” he said. “That there was justice and freedom. And…that they would realize i am innocent and they would let me go home to my family. But it was totally to the contrary.” He said he was told by one of his interrogators some years into his detention that his case was a purely political one that had nothing to do with terrorism.
Boumediene eventually went on a hunger strike inside the prison. He told Hayes that, though his captors knew that there was a permanent blockage in his left sinus, they would jam his feeding tube into that nostril “for five to ten minutes” until they hit bone.
He also discussed the toll his detention has taken on him, even after his release.
“I don’t have anything,” he said. “I lost all my life. I go and try to find a job. They ask me, between 2002 and 2009, what did you do? And this is where the shock is. The interviewer hears the word ‘Guantanamo’ and they freak out.”
Boumediene said that the American government was an “arrogant” one. “Until this very moment, they don’t want to admit they made a mistake,” he said.