Australian says Guantanamo was `six years of hell`

Australia`s former long-serving Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks Saturday broke his silence on life inside the US-run prison, saying he endured deprivation and witnessed brutality in "six years of hell".

Sydney: Australia`s former long-serving
Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks Saturday broke his silence on
life inside the US-run prison, saying he endured deprivation
and witnessed brutality in "six years of hell".

Hicks said he was in a "haze of disbelief and fear, pain
and confusion" when he arrived in Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba in early 2002 and was placed in a cage made of
cyclone fencing.

"The first two weeks of Camp X-Ray was a blur of
hardships: no sleeping, no talking, no moving, no looking, no
information," he writes in "Guantanamo: My Journey" released
today.

The former terrorism suspect once dubbed the "Aussie
Taliban", who has since married and now lives in Sydney, was
captured in late 2001 in Afghanistan where he had been accused
of fighting alongside Taliban forces.

He spent more than five years in Guantanamo before being
sent to home in April 2007 to serve out the remainder of the
sentence handed down by the US military commission which had
convicted him of providing material support for terrorism. He
was released from a South Australian jail in late 2007.

Hicks, now in his mid-30s, is legally unable to profit
from his book because Australia does not allow people to
benefit from crime.

In three extracts released to the media free of charge,
he speaks of how his thirst for travel was sparked by a chance
encounter with an Israeli traveller when he worked in Japan
training racehorses.

He also says he had intended to help the Kashmiri cause
for independence but ended up trapped in Afghanistan as the US
led efforts to crush the Taliban after the September 11, 2001
attacks in the United States.

He writes that while an Afghan man had risked his life to
find him a safe haven in the northern city of Kunduz, he ended
up attempting to take a taxi to the capital Kabul and was
captured en route by a Northern Alliance soldier.

"After yelling directly into my ear, he took me by the
hand and began to pull me away. I went to resist, but he made
a gesture to go for his gun," Hicks writes. "With dread, I
resigned myself to the situation and allowed myself to
be led away. This was the beginning of six years of hell."

PTI

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