January 11, 2002, the day the first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo

In January 2002, the journalist of Europe 1 Patrice Thomas recounts the conditions of detention of the prisoners of Guantanamo. “Chained to their seats, hooded and handcuffed, the detainees arrive after more than twenty hours of flight. 13,000 kilometers from Kandahar to Guantanamo with a stopover kept secret. A hundred cells are ready. Four wire mesh walls, a cement floor and a wooden ceiling. The whole is surrounded by two fences and brand new barbed wire “, he tells the microphone of Europe 1.

20 years old and 780 prisoners

In 20 years, 780 have passed through Guantanamo prison. Among the first prisoners, there are two French, confirms a few days later Hubert Védrine, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Perhaps French nationals should be tried in France. This is a question to be explored,” he said. “But in any case, we ask the American authorities that all prisoners, regardless of legal status, benefit from all the guarantees recognized by international law, which naturally includes their conditions of detention.”

20 years of torture at Guantanamo

Two years later, for the first time, the United States Supreme Court allowed Guantanamo prisoners to be defended by lawyers. But the more the years go by, the more we discover what is happening inside Guantanamo.

The soldiers who supervise the prison tell, as in 2006, at the microphone of François Clémenceau, this general who commands the center explains how the inmates continue to deliver important information every day. “You will not be surprised to learn that a number of inmates here lived in London before dispersing to Europe. And they allow us, six months after the attacks of last summer, to know who is still on the run, who is being trained to replace those who have done the job and who are their leader at the mid-level, “he said.

“Delivered to the US military, sometimes for money”

That same year 2006, a court ruling in the United States forced the Pentagon to publish a list of Guantanamo prisoners. We discover that some detainees have no direct link with terrorism, says Olivier Roy, research director at CNRS. “There are a lot of Afghans. So these are obviously people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and who were handed over to the US military, sometimes for money,” says he does.

President Barack Obama promises in 2009 to close Guantanamo, but he will not do so. That same year 2009, the first prisoner released from Guantanamo, Lakhdar Boumediene, spoke. Innocent after seven years in prison, he told Europe1 about the torture he suffered. “They questioned me for Al-Qaeda, for Osama Bin Laden, they beat me, they started with torture, the interrogations were night, day, afternoon, morning, it was like a nightmare”, he recounts.

Today, 39 prisoners remain at Guantanamo, including a Pakistani who is considered to be one of the brains of 9/11.

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