Guantanamo Swede seeks damages

The Swedish man held without trial by American forces in the Guantanamo Bay base on Cuba has spoken out for the first time since he returned to Sweden, protesting his innocence and vowing to sue the American authorities for his detention.

Mehdi Ghezali used a press conference on Monday to criticize not only the treatment he received from the Americans, but also the support he says was lacking from the Swedish government. Gehzali is being represented by celebrity lawyer Peter Althin, who also represents Anna Lindh’s killer, Mijailo Mijailovic.

Ghezali denied that he was a member of al-Qaeda, and told the press conference in his home town, Örebro, that he had been “physically and mentally tortured” whilst being held in the prison camp. He claimed that he had been made to sit in an interrogation room for thirteen hours in a row, and was deprived of sleep.

Ghezali says that he was in Afghanistan on September 11th 2001, but claims that he had no contact with al-Qaeda, and lived with a normal family in Jalalabad. “I lived a simple life, playing with the children and seeing how Afghans lived.” When the bombing started he went to Pakistan, where he was captured by the Americans and taken back to Afghanistan.

Ghezali criticized the Swedish government for not helping him sufficiently, and not keeping him informed during his detention on Cuba. But Tuesday’s DN paints s different picture, and quotes reports from the Swedish foreign ministry detailing visits made by officials to Guantanamo Bay, and outlining the information he was given about the campaign to release him.

Nevertheless, Peter Althin described the actions of both the Swedish and American governments “one of the greatest legal scandals of modern times.”

But Ghezali’s return from Cuba in a Swedish government plane has also angered those who believe that the Swedish government has given him too much help. Threats against Ghezali have been received, although police spokesman Torbjörn Carlsson said that there was no serious danger to him.