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Journalist Released After 11 Months in US Detention

A young Afghan journalist, Jawed Ahmad, just spent 11 horrific months in US military detention at an air base near Kabul, Afghanistan. Almost a year ago, a press officer from an American military base asked him to come talk. Assuming it was for business, the reporter went to a base, where he was then surrounded by 15 people, dropped to the floor, and taken to prison. They accused him of having contacts with and supplying weapons to the Taliban. He explained that the contacts were a result of his journalism, but he was still flown to the Bagram air base, where the US holds 600 prisoners defined as unlawful combatants.

Jawed sat down with BBC to talk about his experience. Here are some excerpts.

  • After being flown to the detention base, "they stood me in snow for six hours. It was too cold — I had no socks, no shoes, nothing. I became unconscious two times."
  • "For nine days they didn't allow me sleep. I didn't eat anything — it was a very tough time for me."
  • Guards told him: "you know what? . . . There is no right of journalists in this war."

For more of Jawed's account,


  • Jawed says he was put into solitary confinement after the New York Times wrote about his incarceration.
  • Other prisoners told Jawed that the guards mishandled the Koran. "They didn't do it only one time, not two times, they did it more than 100 times. They have thrown it, they have torn it, they have kicked it."

Just today, newly released documents suggest that in 2002, senior White House officials played a central role in deliberating whether the CIA could legally use harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. Hopefully the US will take steps to investigate its potential use of torture, and Jawed's disheartening claims, as such actions cannot help the US's position in the Middle East.

Join The Conversation
geebers geebers 8 years
That was perfect Stephley. Thank you.
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
"We can all agree that there are aspects of every war that are dispicable. But let's remember that these attrocities have been perpetrated by all sides, so crying that we have been horrible, while not sharing any outrage for what the rest of the world has done shows what little respect you have for the American people." So for every bad decision we have made we should go and point out the bad decisions of every single imperfect country to make ourselves feel better? Forget that. I don't like this let's-point-the-finger-at-others-to-absolve-ourselves-from-blame game. That's what I don't have ANY respect for.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Beautifully put, steph.
stephley stephley 8 years
No, it doesn't mean that Dave. It means we're not talking about Daniel Pearl here, we're talking about the detention of this journalist and thousands of other people. The situations are not the same nor can one in any way amend or justify the other. Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered. We can arrest and brutalize other people in response. He will still be dead, more people will be angry and sad and we will have blood on our hands. The countrymen of some of the people we brutalize might retaliate. More people will be dead. Everybody does it. You will make sure the other child stays away from your child - you will not attempt to punish that child, because that is not your place and would only create more serious problems.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"I know our laws, I know what we claim to be our moral standards." Does this mean you have no problem that murders Americans because they have a lower moral standard than we do? If what this guy said happened to him really happened, then I am outraged by it. But I am even more outraged at what the terrorists have done to people like Daniel Pearl. "Are you a hypocrite if you discipline your child for a fight but don't go after the other child involved?" I would listen to my child and find out what the fight was about. If the "other" kid was at fault, I would make sure the parents knew. If they didn't do anything about it, I'd make sure that boy didn't spend any time with my child.
stoopeed stoopeed 8 years
Well, the topic here is the treatment of this guy - if the topic was about 9/11 or bad treatment of US soldiers in Iraq, I would definitely express just how sad I am about that. What is wrong is wrong but changing the subject does not make this less so.
stephley stephley 8 years
No, you're saying everyone does it and trying to make all bad behavior seem equal. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and it is the behavior of the U.S. that concerns me the most - I know our laws, I know what we claim to be our moral standards. Are you a hypocrite if you discipline your child for a fight but don't go after the other child involved? Or are you tending to what is appropriately your concern?
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Hi Steph. Thanks for your input. I'm merely stating that being outraged about things we do, and not about things done to us or our allies that are equally as horrible seems a bit hypocritical. Don't you think?
sydneyalexandria sydneyalexandria 8 years
*long time reader, first time poster* it bothers me that CaterpillarGirl felt the need to correct internment camp to describe what we did to Japanese Americans, on the basis of historical correctedness. the winners write history, and write it only in favor of themselves, whether they are right or wrong. they were indeed CONCENTRATION camps, don't let the "history writers" fool you, or have you believe otherwise. if it smells like sh** call it sh**.
ceej ceej 8 years
I think the point is that you cannot stand up and say we are fighting for right when you perpetrate what are essentially war crimes. Personally I condemn any country that participates in torture.
stephley stephley 8 years
"Everybody does it" Dave is in the house.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
We can all agree that there are aspects of every war that are dispicable. But let's remember that these attrocities have been perpetrated by all sides, so crying that we have been horrible, while not sharing any outrage for what the rest of the world has done shows what little respect you have for the American people.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 8 years
I think, as a point of pride in our nation and our ideals, it should be important to us to serve as a model of respecting human rights. When I read things like this, it makes me believe that we are no different than the terrorists we are fighting. Starving someone? Forcing them to stand in snow (well, if there was any in the Middle East)? Doesn't that sound like something a terrorist would be doing (and have done) instead of an American?
geebers geebers 8 years
You are right the correct term is internment camps but mentally I always thought of them as concentration camps so I tend to not correct myself when I say it outloud. But we all agree they were despicable no matter the wording which is what I was trying to get at.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I'm just glad that the same people who are outraged about this are also outraged at the other kidnappings and political killings going on throughout the world that aren't perpetrated by Americans. Now if they would only step up and show it.
ceej ceej 8 years
i think that a lot of the prisoners in Guantanamo are there for very flimsy reasons, or were merely foot soldiers. Case in point, Australian David hicks who was there from 2001 to 2007 before he was brought to trial. A troubled young man who joined the taliban in 1999 he was never in a position of power and didn't know anything. As far as gaining intelligence from him, it was a waste of time. All the time, effort and money spent on keeping him and others in Cuba could have been used to actually find Osama Bin Laden.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
Wow, I actually see comments above that tell me we can justify what happened based on the fact the guys had PHOTOS OF THE TALIBAN? Guilty until proven innocent is all well and good, folks, when you are on the right side of the fence - but when you are on the wrong one, you woudn't care for it too much, I reckon. Seriously, when a nation stoops to torture they are NO BETTER than the accused. And don't get me started on the Japanese internment camps, it was hardly a picnic, and they were a colossal human rights violation along with a complete waste of time. Not that THAT combination is anything new to US policy. :P
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
it wasnt me correcting it for the intent of "they werent bad places" i am just a sucker for correct wording in terms of historical correctness. sorry.
ceej ceej 8 years
Yes, they delayed it. They were lads, very naive and through a series of events were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Changing the verbiage won't erase the shame of having done such a thing to 110,000 people just because they were at least 1/16th Japanese in origin. Terrible things happen when the fearmongers get their way; that's a lesson we have to continue to learn, apparently.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
CaterpillarGirl, call them what you want, but they were for all intents and purposes concentration camps. I live in an area where one of these camps were, and reading the signs posted by our own government about the way the Japanese citizens were treated is enough to make you sick to your stomach. It's why I don't find information like this particular post hard to believe at all.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
ceej, i am confused, the wedding was put off for two years?
ceej ceej 8 years
Michael Winterbottom made a film called "Road to Guantanamo" about three young British lads who were at a cousins wedding in Afghanistan. They were held for TWO years, some of that time at camp x ray under the most appalling conditions. They were released without charge after they repeatedly refused to sign "confessions" that would assure their release. They eventually got to go to their cousins wedding. This story is just one of many.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
internment, not concentration.
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