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Guantanamo Bay Anniversary: Former Detainee Tells Of Torture, Mistreatment

First Posted: 01/11/12 07:53 AM ET Updated: 01/11/12 08:00 AM ET

Ten years after the first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo Bay, the United States is observing a somber anniversary. In the video above, Democracy Now! interviews Omar Deghayes, a former detainee, who describes his horrifying experiences behind bars.

Deghayes spent nearly 6 years of his life in the prison. He told The Guardian how he was severely tortured, and lost sight in one eye after a guard at Guantanamo pushed his fingers inside his eyes.

Deghayes, originally from Libya, was captured in Pakistan in 2002, where he lived with his wife and baby. He was with his family the day he was picked up. Chained and with his head covered, Mr. Deghayes was sent to Bagram Prison -- the same facility that Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai recently demanded to be handed over from U.S. to Afghan control. From Bagram, Deghayes was transferred to Guantanamo.

In an interview with Democracy Now!, Omar Deghayes talks about the conditions inside Guantanamo:

People are locked up in isolation camps. They are put through such mistreatment that many people have, we heard, died. And people lost their hands, lost their eyes, lost their limbs. [...] People were -- where we were -- subjected to beatings, fear every day, daily fear, and all sorts of mistreatment, without being convicted of any crime, which is -- which is the most unacceptable thing.

779 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo since 2002. 600 of them have been released, yet dozens remain detained. "I wonder if the U.S. government wants to keep us here forever," Gitmo detainee Suleiman al-Nahdi recently wrote in a letter, the Associated Press reports.

Read or watch the full interview with Omar Deghayes at Democracy Now!

Below, see US military-reviewed photos from inside Guantanamo Bay:
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  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Getty)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows 'comfort items' given to the detainees: newspaper, games and one PS3 for the whole camp at Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo where 70 prisoners are detained on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a silence sign inside the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a class area in the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a cell in the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a senior medical officer demonstrating how the detainees who refuse to eat are fed with a feeding tube in the hospital of the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Lieutenant Colonel Andrews McManus, deputy commander of the Joint detention group commander, inside the hospital for the detainees of the Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a recreation area in Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp VI entrance in Guantanamo. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • <em>Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.</em> A U.S. military guard tower stands on the perimeter of a detainee camp at the U.S. detention center for 'enemy combatants' on September 16, 2010, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. With attempts by the Obama administration to close the facility stalled, some than 170 detainees remain at the detention center, which was opened by the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11. The facility is run by Joint Task Force Guantanamo, located on the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay on the southeastern coast of Cuba. (John Moore/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp Justice, where the media is housed on Guantanamo, October 22, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • <em>Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.</em> A U.S. military guard tower stands on the perimeter of a detainee camp at the U.S. detention center for 'enemy combatants' on September 16, 2010, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (John Moore/Getty Images)

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Filed by Eline Gordts  |