Prisoner on literary censorship in Guantanamo Bay

Writing from Guantanamo Bay via his lawyer, Shaker Aamer, the last UK citizen imprisoned at the camp, describes the Kafkaesque regime of censorship practiced by the camp guards. His lawyer brings him books every three months, but so far, guards have confiscated Russell Brand's memoirs (too sweary), "The Gulag Archipelago" and "The Rule of Law" by Lord Bingham. They allowed Dershowitz's "Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence," but redacted certain passages. Unsurprisingly, Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" did not attain the Gitmo stamp of approval. Aamer's favorite book is (of course), "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

The piece is written with admirable resilience and humour, but it's a reminder that the US government is still maintaining a torture camp where people who haven't been convicted of any crime are imprisoned indefinitely.

I am not surprised that they banned The Rule of Law by Lord Bingham, who was formerly the senior law lord in the UK. They had to be consistent. They have banned the rule of law in Guantanamo, so it wouldn’t make sense to permit a book on such a contraband concept.

They censored Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard. I suppose that is understandable, as well. They portray me as some kind of religious nut, just because I am a person of faith. The God I believe in (Allah) seeks only justice. But the US military would not want me reading that some right-wing American people have interpreted their religion as mandating the elimination of universal rights.

Finally, they banned Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, perhaps because the Russian author didn’t write No Crime but We’ll Still Have Some Punishment, which would have been better suited to Guantanamo. After all, I (like others) have had 4,360 days of punishment without ever being accused of any offence.

Why Russell Brand is banned in Guantanamo Bay [Shaker Aamer/New Statesman]

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