Guantánamo Diary

Author: Mohamedou Ould Slahi


Guantanamo Diary

This is the first and only diary written by an imprisoned Guantánamo detainee. Mohamedou Slahi is a Mauritian who was imprisoned at the detainee camp for more than thirteen years. He was never charged with a crime. In 2010 a federal judge ordered his release but the US government fought the order.

Slahi taught himself English while in detention and hand wrote his own petition to the US government. He began a correspondence with lawyers that recorded the details of his life as a detainee. This became the 'Guantánamo Diary' published after his lawyers struggled for seven years to get the government to allow its publication. The book was published in 2015, heavily censured by the government with large blocks of text obscured. The book reveals the awful horrors of the camp, the harrowing incidents that he was subjected to, the amazing resilience of the author, and his grace and humor which saw him through it. It includes accounts of Slahi's prayers and fasting while in detention, and the attempts to force him into stopping that. The book became a national bestseller. The author was released from Guantánamo in October 2016 and returned to his home country of Mauritania.

According to reporters who interviewed him, Slahi was subjected to brutal interrogations and torture. He maintained his sanity but confesses that he came close to breaking down completely. What is striking is his sense of humor, the bond that he made with some of his guards, and his ability to make the most of small things while in detention. Even more incredible is his efforts to empathize with those who tortured him and understand the reasons behind their subhuman behavior.

CBS's 60 Minutes has aired an interview with him which is fascinating. Slahi talks about his interrogations, his hope to go back home, and his eventual release. A must watch.