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Former Guantanamo inmate-turned author denied entry into Japan

Cover of Mohamedou Slahi's book, translated to Japanese. (ANJ)
Cover of Mohamedou Slahi's book, translated to Japanese. (ANJ)
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19 Feb 2024 01:02:44 GMT9
19 Feb 2024 01:02:44 GMT9

Arab News Japan

TOKYO: Japan has refused to issue a visa to an internationally acclaimed Mauritanian author who was formerly detained for 14 years without charge by the United States at its Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Kyodo News reports.

The Japanese government denied Mohamedou Slahi the visa in January. It was the second time Slahi, who was cleared for release by the United States in October 2016, has been denied entry to Japan after a separate application in 2020 was also rejected.

The 53-year-old author, who wrote about his imprisonment in a well-received book that was also turned into a movie, had planned to visit Japan in March to give a lecture.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry reportedly said Slahi “did not meet the requirements” for visa issuance but gave no further details on the decision. Slahi said he was shocked at the visa refusal.

“I thought Japan was a free, democratic, and peace-loving country,” he said, according to Kyodo.

In the early 1990s, Slahi received training in Afghanistan from the Islamist extremist group al-Qaida, which was reportedly receiving support from the Central Intelligence Agency at the time.

He was detained in Mauritania in November 2001, two months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States, due to his suspected links with al-Qaida. He was then transferred to Guantanamo in August 2002.

Slahi confessed to having connections with al-Qaida while being tortured, but a US federal court permitted his release, deeming the confessions to have come under duress.

The U.S. government eventually decided he no longer posed a threat, and he was released to Mauritania in Oct. 17, 2016. Slahi has been based in the Netherlands since 2021.

During his imprisonment, Slahi wrote a memoir titled “Guantanamo Diary.” It was published in January 2015 and subsequently translated into more than 20 languages, including Japanese. A movie – “The Mauritanian” – based on his book was released in 2021.

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