WASHINGTON – Al-Jazeera photographer Sami al-Hajj who was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay plans to file a joint lawsuit with other inmates against former US President George w. Bush and other administration officials.
The Sudanese al-Hajj was arrested in 2002 and held by US authorities for six years. He was released in May 2008. He plans to sue Bush and other members of his administration for illegal detainment and torture he and other inmates suffered during their time in the facility.
Al-Hajj is the co-founder of the Guantanamo Justice Center that was set up last month by former prisoners at the US base, and aimed at opening legal proceedings against the Bush administration.
"We need to start our organization first and then we will prepare a whole case. We don't want to do this case by case, he said, "We are in the process of collecting information from all the people, such as medical evidence. It takes time."
He added: "I need them to go to court ... we don't want (what happened to us) to be repeated again."
The organization plans to file a suit similar to that filed against Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in the UK in 1998 at the request of a Spanish prosecutor for the alleged murders of Spanish citizens in Chile under his reign.
While the plaintiffs are aware that they do not have the power to extradite Bush or his officials to Europe to stand trial, al-Hajj said, "at least they can't visit European countries. If they do, (the authorities) would catch them and send them to court."
Al-Hajj told the Guardian he was questioned by British intelligence officers during his detention, once in Kandahar in March 2002, and another time at Guantánamo later that same year.
He said: "They asked me questions about al-Jazeera, whether it had links with al-Qaeda. They asked me questions about the British detainees at Guantanamo.
"They told me I should cooperate with the Americans and work as a spy," upon his release. He said he was not mistreated by the British intelligence officers.