Emad Hassan was abducted by bounty hunters while studying in Pakistan and sold to US forces for $5,000. A simple mistake in the confusion of interrogation sealed his fate – he told his interrogators he knew about ‘Al Qa’idah’, referring to a small village with that name near his hometown in Yemen. Emad was then taken to Guantánamo Bay, where he has been held ever since. He has been on hunger strike since 2007, longer than any other detainee.
Emad has never been charged with a crime, and was cleared for release in 2009, but has lost a third of his life to Guantánamo. Reprieve continues to fight for his release and to challenge the brutal treatment meted out by guards as punishment for his peaceful hunger strike. In July 2014 we took action in the US courts after the guards prevented Emad and other detainees from praying communally during Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims.
“Although the authorities are trying to cover it up, the hunger strike at Gitmo is still going on and the military’s effort to suppress it as savage as ever. We’re fighting this brutality in federal court, but there is one man who has the power to end this pain. Obama must send cleared men like Emad home to their families at once.”
Cori Crider, attorney for detainees in Guantánamo
Emad travelled to Pakistan to study because he couldn’t access specialised higher education in Yemen. Emad is an intellectual with a passion for poetry, ranging from the great Sufi poets like Rumi, to English poets including Wilfred Owen. His studies ended dramatically when he was abducted by Pakistani forces in a raid on his student housing. In 2009, Emad was unanimously cleared for release by six different branches of the US government, including the FBI and the CIA, but he remains imprisoned. In peaceful protest, he has been on hunger strike since 2007 – longer than any other prisoner in Guantánamo. He has barely eaten for the last seven years, and is brutally force-fed twice a day.
“All I ask is to be given my rights — the rights that are guaranteed by constitutions in all civilised nations. All I ask is to live free.”
The Guantánamo authorities view the hunger strike as dangerous disobedience and they punish anyone who takes part. The guards beat them, violently drag the men from their cells, strap them to a chair and shove tubes up their noses, through which a nutritional supplement is pumped at high speed. This abuse has caused serious health problems for Emad. He has severe pancreatitis and one of his nasal passages has completely closed up. Emad says that he will continue his peaceful protest until he and his fellow cleared men can go home where they belong.
- Suit brought on Emad’s behalf to end his force feeding
- Letter from Emad on Gitmo’s 12th anniversary
- Read about Emad’s longing for his favourite Yemeni dishes