Sami al-Hajj was a cameraman when US forces captured him in 2001, but now, a year after his release from Guantanamo Bay, he’s mostly seen in front of a camera, as al-Jazeera’s special reporter on human rights. “I wanted to talk for seven years, to make up for the seven years of silence,” he tells the New York Times. Hajj hasn’t just reported on Guantanamo, he’s covered everything from press restrictions in Iraq to the plight of Jordanian political prisoners.
Hajj’s story was famous in the Arab world even before he got in front of the camera, but since then he’s been vocal about the abuses he says he and fellow prisoners endured. “I needed to document this for history,” he said, “so that the next generation knows the depth of the crime that was committed.” When a visitor mentioned “enhanced interrogation techniques,” he cut them off, asking “Instead of torture?” By using that euphemism, “We as journalists are violating human rights.”