Guantánamo Swede gives up case against US

A Swedish former Guantánamo Bay prisoner has given up on attempts to sue the United States government for damages.

Mehdi Ghezali was imprisoned in the American military base on Cuba for more than two years.

“We haven’t got any further with this case since the American law firm we were working with withdraw,” said Ghezali’s lawyer Anton Strand.

Strand and his colleagues at Peter Althin’s Stockholm law firm had been trying for three years to contact a US law firm that would pursue a case against the American federal government. Ghezali said he wanted compensation for being kept in Guantánamo for two years without trial.

The Swede eventually found a firm willing to take the case on, but it dropped out shortly before the deadline for bringing a case expired.

“We then contacted an American organization which would have been able to make the deadline, but were told that the chances of getting any money out of it were very small. When Ghezali realized this he lost interest in proceeding,” said Strand.

Ghezali was “deeply disappointed” at not succeeding in bringing a damages suit in the US, said Strand. He said he also felt let down by the Swedish authorities for their handling of his case.

“Ghezali wants to look into the possibility of acting against the Swedish authorities. I don’t yet know what that could lead to – possibly a complaint to the Justice Ombudsman,” said Strand.

Ghezali, who is of Algerian descent and was brought up in Örebro, was 22 when he was arrested in Pakistan, close to the Afghan border. His capture in December 2001, came just three months after the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington. He was later taken to the US detention centre on Cuba.

The Swede was released in July 2004 without having faced a court or tribunal and without being given any reason for his imprisonment. He told media in Sweden that he had been tortured while in American custody, something the Pentagon has denied.