Journalist released from Guantanamo optimistic about press freedom

by IJNet
Oct 30, 2018 in Specialized Topics

Sami Alhaj, the only journalist inmate at Guantanamo, is working to shape the norms of journalism in the Arab region.

Alhaj was imprisoned for six years at the Guantanamo detention camp for allegedly working as a financial courier for Chechen rebels and assisting al-Qaeda figures. During his sentence, he suffered abuse and ill treatment without a trial or explanation of his charges.

Alhaj has since returned to the journalism world as head of Al Jazeera’s human rights and civil liberties desk in Doha, Qatar. He and his team are working to shape the norms of journalism in the wake of the Arab Spring.

In an interview with the Global Forum for Media Development, a global network of 500 non-governmental media assistance organizations, Alhaj expressed optimism about the advancement of press freedom in the region, despite the ongoing challenges.

“Journalists must resist the pressure to conform to a political agenda and calls to patriotism, particularly if it means overlooking human rights abuse,” Alhaj told GFDM.

To read the complete interview with Alhaj, which appeared in the latest issue of the GFMD Insider newsletter, click here.

_Photo by Muhammad Basheer, used with a CC-license_