Telephone access of Guantanamo Bay detainees
After the United States established the Guantanamo Bay detention camp at its naval base in Cuba, officials occasionally allowed Guantanamo captives' phone calls to their family. In 2008 the Joint Task Force Guantanamo that manages the camps developed rules regarding phone calls: all detainees who met certain conditions were allowed to make one call home per year.
On September 29, 2009, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced that Guantanamo captives and their families would be allowed to communicate through a two-way video link. Since May 2008, a similar facility has been available to captives held in extrajudicial detention in Bagram Theater Internment Facility. This facility has been available to American GIs for many years. The first video call was made between a Pakistani captive and his family. His family traveled to the ICRC's Peshawar office, where one end of the video link had been set up.
Phone calls for detainees
While some phone calls to families had been allowed at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in 2008 the Joint Military Task Force developed policy and procedures to allow all detainees who satisfied certain conditions to make one phone call annually. Facilities were upgraded and in 2009, the Red Cross assisted with setting up video calls to its centers overseas.
- When Salim Ahmed Hamdan was allowed a call home, on August 6, 2008, after his Guantanamo Military Commission acquitted him of conspiracy and convicted him of material support for terrorism, his was the 107th call.
- Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, a Yemeni who faced charges before a Guantanamo military commission, told his Presiding Officer he had not been able to acquire a Yemeni lawyer because he had not been able to contact his family during his six years of detention. On May 22, 2008 his Presiding Officer ordered that arrangements should be made for him to have a one-hour phone call home, by July 1, 2008. Pauline Storum, deputy commander for Public Affairs for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, told reporters later that same day that arrangements for the call had already been put in place, and that the call had taken place.
Suzanne Lachelier, the officer who had been authorized to coordinate the call, said she was surprised to read newspaper reports that the call had taken place. She said she had not begun to make the arrangements. Storun later sent a retraction to reporters, without explanation of the error.
- Muhammad Hamid Al Qarani, one of the younger captives, was allowed his first phone call in 2009. Rather than calling his family, he called Sami Al Hajj, a recently released detainee who is an Al Jazeera journalist. As reported by Al-Jazeera, he told Al Hajj that abuse had continued at the camp despite the election of United States President Barack Obama. Al Qarani was transferred to Saudi Arabia on June 13, 2009, to undergo a rehabilitation programme, less than two months after the call.
- Abdul Al Salam Al Hilal was allowed his first call home in April 2009. His two sons died two days later, in an apparent accident with a hand grenade. In a second phone call in August 2009, he told his family that he feared he would be assassinated in Guantanamo.
"Gitmo Prisoners Granted Phone Call to Family". 2008-03-13. Archived from the original on 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
'Unlawful enemy combatants' detained at the Guantanamo Bay naval base will be allowed to phone their families once a year, Reuters reports. But the military task force in charge of managing the prison has yet to work out the details. As it stands, Gitmo inmates can send and receive letters—subject to military censorship—but otherwise are permitted no contact with the outside world.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
Carol Rosenberg (2008-03-12). "Captives to get phone link home". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
Past prison camps commanders have said that both logistics and security concerns would complicate telephone calls; they would require foreign language interpreters listening in to make sure detainees don't divulge sensitive information.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
"U.S. OKs Phone Calls For Gitmo Detainees". CBS News. 2008-03-11. Archived from the original on 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
A spokesman for the detention center, Army Lt. Col. Ed Bush, said it is working out procedures for the calls. He declined to provide details about which detainees would be eligible and how often calls would be permitted. 'I have no projected timeline for implementation but it is currently being developed,' he said.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Jane Sutton (2008-03-12). "U.S. says some Guantanamo prisoners can phone home". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Guantanamo inmates get video link: rights group". Agence France Presse. 2009-09-18. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01.
- "Guantanamo detainee, family have video call". Daily Times (Pakistan). 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01.
- "TV News footage: Afghanistan - video phone calls a vital link for Bagram prisoners and their relatives". International Committee of the Red Cross. 2008-06-10. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
"Guantanamo detainee, family have video call". Daily Times. 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 2009-10-03.
"We had a family chat together; me and my four children with their father. My youngest son saw his father for the first time. I can't say, what this means to us. It was an hour of all pleasures that came after many years," said Ayesha, wife of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.
- Carol Rosenberg (2008-08-06). "Gitmo jury deliberates; driver phones home". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on August 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
Carol Rosenberg (May 22, 2008). "Terror suspect phones Sudan to hire own lawyer". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on May 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
Within hours of a judge's order, an accused al Qaeda conspirator from Sudan got a call from home Thursday to consult with his family on how they might hire him a lawyer, at their own expense.
- "Guantanamo judge orders military to allow detainee phone call home to Sudan". International Herald Tribune. May 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
- Carol Chodroff (2008-05-29). "Still silenced in Guantánamo". Salon magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
Carol Rosenberg (May 24, 2008). "Guantánamo: Detainee didn't get call from home". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on May 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
A military spokesman erred last week by telling journalists that an alleged al Qaeda conspirator at Guantánamo received a Red Cross-assisted telephone call from home.
- Jane Sutton (May 24, 2008). "Guantanamo phone report was in error, U.S. says". Reuters. Archived from the original on May 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "'Nothing changed' at Guantanamo". The Australian. 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "New Guantanamo abuse claims". Al Jazeera. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "US transfers Guantanamo detainees". Al Jazeera. 2009-06-13. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "Hand grenade kills sons of Guantanamo detainee". Sawha Net. 2009-04-23. Archived from the original on 2009-04-23.
- "Two children of Yemeni detainee in Gitmo killed in house blast". News Yemen. 2009-04-23. Archived from the original on 2009-04-23.
- "Yemeni Gitmo Inmate's Sons Die as House Bomb Goes off". Yemen Post. 2009-04-23. Archived from the original on 2009-04-23.
- "Yemeni Gitmo detainee says faced assassination plots". Saba News. 2009-08-01. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-08-02.