Nabil was abducted from a hospital bed in 2001 and sold to the US military for a bounty. His American interrogators told him that his identity had been confused with that of another man and that his detention was a mistake. But they still refused to release him. Instead, they detained and abused him for a further 12 years.
In 2009, we set out to give Nabil back his freedom – and thanks to the support of so many people, we won. Nabil was released to Algeria in October 2013.
But Nabil’s release was bittersweet. Although his entire family lives in France, he was returned to Algeria – a country with which he no longer has any ties.
“Having spent so long in such an isolating place, I do not want to find myself alone again, in a position where I must beg for charity. The most important thing to me is dignity.”
Despite this, Nabil is delighted to be free and is rebuilding his life with the help of Reprieve’s Life After Guantánamo Team. He survived 11 long years of imprisonment, and is grateful for all the support he has received.
Nabil was born in Algeria but his father took him to France when he was a baby. When he was 21, he tried to secure French residency, but worried about being deported while his papers were being processed and was unable to work. He moved to Afghanistan where he could live without papers and on little money.
War broke out in the country soon after the 9/11 attacks. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, reports began circulating that the Northern Alliance was rounding up and killing Arabs. Nabil tried to flee as the country was quickly collapsing. He was wounded in a bombing on his way out and ended up in a Jalalabad hospital.
From his hospital bed, he was sold to US forces for a bounty of $5,000. Several US interrogators told Nabil that his was a case of mistaken identity. Regardless, he was rendered to Guantánamo on February 15, 2002.
During his 11 years in Guantánamo, Nabil endured the full array of torture and inhumane treatment that has become synonymous with the prison: sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, temperature extremes, prolonged isolation, lack of access to sunlight and recreation, and limited access to medical care.
A former Guantánamo guard described Nabil to Reprieve lawyers as “a brilliant artist, a keen footballer, and a sweet kid.”
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Reprieve congratulates France on the resettlement of Saber Lahmar and calls on President Obama to bring home French resident and son of French veteran Nabil Hadjarab