Telephone Access of Guantanamo Bay Detainees - Phone Calls For Detainees

Phone Calls For Detainees

While some phone calls to families had been allowed at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in 2008 the Joint Military Task Force developed policy and procedures to allow all detainees who satisfied certain conditions to make one phone call annually. Facilities were upgraded and in 2009, the Red Cross assisted with setting up video calls to its centers overseas.

  • When Salim Ahmed Hamdan was allowed a call home, on August 6, 2008, after his Guantanamo Military Commission acquitted him of conspiracy and convicted him of material support for terrorism, his was the 107th call.
  • Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, a Yemeni who faced charges before a Guantanamo military commission, told his Presiding Officer he had not been able to acquire a Yemeni lawyer because he had not been able to contact his family during his six years of detention. On May 22, 2008 his Presiding Officer ordered that arrangements should be made for him to have a one hour phone call home, by July 1, 2008. Pauline Storum, deputy commander for Public Affairs for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, told reporters later that same day that arrangements for the call had already been put in place, and that the call had taken place.

Suzanne Lachelier, the officer who had been authorized to coordinate the call, said she was surprised to read newspaper reports that the call had taken place. She said she had not begun to make the arrangements. Storun later sent a retraction to reporters, without explanation of the error.

  • Muhammad Hamid Al Qarani, one of the younger captives, was allowed his first phone call in 2009. Rather than calling his family, he called Sami Al Hajj, a recently released detainee who is an Al Jazeera journalist. As reported by Al-Jazeera, he told Al Hajj that abuse had continued at the camp despite the election of United States President Barack Obama. Al Qarani was transferred to Saudi Arabia on June 13, 2009, to undergo a rehabilitation programme, less than two months after the call.
  • Abdul Al Salam Al Hilal was allowed his first call home in April 2009. His two sons died two days later, in an apparent accident with a hand grenade. In a second phone call in August 2009, he told his family that he feared he would be assassinated in Guantanamo.

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