EXCLUSIVE: Guantanamo's Innocents: Newly Released Prisoners Struggle to Find a Home

A: They didn't tell us why we were at Guantanamo, but the only thing they kept telling us, the U.S. government, the interrogators, the guards, understand our situation and they know that we shouldn't be there. In the meantime, they keep telling us that we will not be sent back to China and the U.S. government is looking for a third country to settle.

Q: So there was some sympathy, you think? Some guilt expressed?

A: No, I don't think so. Sympathy or regret never was expressed by anyone from the guards.

Q: After being cleared as non-enemy combatants, were they allowed to contact their families or use the telephone?

A: No. Only one exception. One of the five men were able to speak to a sister who lives in Sweden.

Q: What was your interaction like with their fellow prisoners? What did they think of each other?

A: If you're in a cage, or in those camps, camp one, camp three, you're allowed to speak to your neighbor, cellmate. But if you're outside, on the playground, you're not supposed to talk. So the interaction with the other inmates is very, very limited.

Q: Was there a hardest day, a moment when you'd most lost hope?

A: After we were handed over to American authorities in Kandahar. We thought it was good, Americans uphold people's rights and protect them. When we realized where we were going -- to Guantanamo -- that was the hardest moment.

Q: Last week, the U.N. came out with a report saying that Guantanamo should be shut down. What do you think?

A: In my view, as someone who spent four-and-a-half years in prison in Guantanamo, I believe the United States should charge the men who are in Guantanamo or release them, so I don't believe this prison could be kept as it is today.

Q: So it shouldn't be shut down or it should be shut down?

A: My honest answer would be yes, of course.

Q: How long has it been since you've seen your families?

A: Most of us left in 1999. [By] last summer, when our American lawyers get involved in our case, our family members pretty much thought that we evaporated from the face of the earth.

It is very difficult. We are alive but not being able to talk to our loved ones and let them know that we are thinking about them and missing them, caring about them, telling them that everything is going to be all right. Some of us have kids [at] home, whom we haven't seen yet. I even have two children, a daughter and a son, that were born after I left China. My wife was pregnant when I left my homeland.

Q: How do you like Albania so far? What is life like there?

A: We are very pleased that the Albanian government and the Albanian people opened their hearts and welcomed us. Despite the fact that all the strong, powerful, democratic countries are able and capable of accepting us, they did not do that. We are having some problems ... there are no Uighurs in Albania, and we don't speak the Albanian language.

It would have been much easier if we stayed closer to the Uighur community so that they can come and help us to forget our life, the time that we spent in Guantanamo and help us to heal the wounds that were created in the last four-and-a-half years of incarceration. Albania is a great people [sic], it's very nice here. However, we don't see any future culturally and economically.

Q: If not Albania, where do you want to be?

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