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Life After Gitmo

Winning his freedom was a big step for Mohammed Jawad, reportedly the youngest prisoner at Guantanamo Bay until he was released in August. But Jawad, who two U.S. judges have said was tortured in U.S. custody, is still suffering from the effects of his treatment during seven years in custody without charge, according to a Los Angeles Times story today.

A federal judge in July said that without his statements given under torture, the government’s case against Jawad, who was around 12 years old when he was arrested for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at U.S. soldiers, was “riddled with holes” and based on wholly unreliable evidence. She ordered that he be freed.

Mark Magnier at the Los Angeles Times tracked down Jawad in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he found a 19-year-old struggling with mood swings as he tries to reconcile himself to having lost his adolescent and teen years to confinement and mistreatment in a U.S. prison. Jawad was one of many detainees who tried to commit suicide at Guantanamo.

Jawad tells Magnier that he now suffers from headaches, remains haunted by prison memories, and worries about those he left behind, who had become a sort of surrogate family. About 220 detainees are still at Guantanamo Bay, which may or may not be closed in January, as President Obama promised shortly after he took office.

Jawad reportedly asked Magnier to tell President Obama, the United Nations or anyone else who could do anything to help the prisoners who remain there. “People there are sick,” he told Magnier. “They should be treated. They should be freed.”

Although UNICEF and some other civil groups are trying to help Jawad get counseling, education and job training, neither the U.S. nor the Afghan government has provided Jawad with any assistance.

A Defense Department official told the L.A. Times that financial assistance for former Guantanamo detainees would cost too much, and “we don’t want to give them money to buy equipment that could come back to hurt us.”

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