Former Detainee Reacts to Guantanamo Ruling

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[Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Ruhal Ahmed was held for more than two years at the U.S. military base in Cuba before his release in spring 2004. He was never charged with a crime. He talks with Madeleine Brand about his experience at a prisoner and his reaction to Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling rejecting war crimes trials for detainees.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Ruhal Ahmed was one of the prisoners detained at Guantanamo for two years without charges. He and two other men were reportedly detained on their way to a wedding in Pakistan from Birmingham, England. They are the so-called Tipton Three featured in the new documentary, Road to Guantanamo. Ruhal Ahmed was released two years ago and he speaks to us now from London. Welcome back to the program.

Mr. RUHAL AHMED (Former Guantanamo Detainee): Thank you.

BRAND: Well, what are your feelings today about the Supreme Court ruling?

Mr. AHMED: Well, actually, I mean the judge who ruled against Bush does care about the Geneva Convention and the international law. So it's really good. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of secret closed-door tribunals in the case of Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, it's more important than ever for the American people to understand what is really happening at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. You know, as these detainees are slowly released from U.S. military prison at Guantanamo, it is critical for their stories of false accusation, torture and other abuse to be heard.

BRAND: The people at Guantanamo could be held for the duration of hostilities. It's sort of an open-ended detention. What do you think of that?

Mr. AHMED: That's just absolutely ridiculous. I mean how can you, you can't hold someone indefinitely without any factual evidence. You can't just hold somebody just because you think they're from a terrorist nation. You have to prove it.

BRAND: Did you know Mr. Hamdan?

Mr. AHMED: Yes, I did. And he was actually - if he's the right person who I think he is, he was about three cells away from me, and he was in front of me - so on a diagonal vision, and I used to talk to him on many occasions.

BRAND: What did you talk about?

Mr. AHMED: You know, just the different things. He spoke a bit of English and I was trying to learn Arabic. So you know, he would teach me, you know, if I got stuck with words, then he would try to explain to me - even though his English wasn't very good. Just talk about general stuff, you know, about himself and about myself. You know, how old am I, how many brother have you got, sisters have you got. In Guantanamo there's not much to talk about because, you know, your life is the same as everybody else's. It's not like you go to work and you meet different people and you can come home and talk to another person about your day. It's limited, you know, your conversation is limited. It's like how are you, every morning, it's like how are you, you all right? You okay? And that's about it really.

BRAND: Well, did you talk about the nature of your confinement and how you ended up there?

Mr. AHMED: I did, but he was very quiet. I mean I think everybody in Guantanamo would never speak about how they got captured or why they were in Guantanamo. They don't talk about why or how they got there.

BRAND: Right. I see. Well, thank you very much for speaking with us.

Mr. AHMED: No problem.

BRAND: Ruhal Ahmed, one of the so-called Tipton Three. He was in Guantanamo Bay for two years. Thank you very much.

Mr. AHMED: Thank you. Bye.

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