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

A: Were hoping that the United States government would recognize the mistake that it has done and accept, allow us to enter the United States. U.S. government captured us, U.S. government incarcerated us, locked us up in prison, and U.S. government said that we were not a threat and should be released.

Uighur-Americans came forward, made an offer to the United States government to accept us into Uighur-American society and community. They even went into the courts and contacted the lawyers and wrote a letter to the U.S. government officials asking them to consider releasing us into the United States. Unfortunately, it did not happen, a rather disappointing decision.

However, other countries such as Canada, Germany, Norway, Turkey would also be good countries for us to settle because of their sizable Uighur populations. Uighur culture is an interdependent culture where we always need to see our friends and sit down and talk with them. And especially in our situation, we need a lot of people around us helping us to forget this bitter life experience that we spent wasted in Guantanamo for the last four-and-a-half years.

Q: Are you angry at the United States?

A: I wouldn't call it angry. I would rather describe it as extreme disappointment. The Uighur people see the United States as a country that promotes democratic freedom and protects human rights of the people, particularly people like the Uighurs, my people. We look up to the United States as a source of hope, inspiration for our liberty. And because of that image that we hold of the United States and what we have experienced in Guantanamo, we feel extremely disappointed.

We are so fortunate to have a group of good-hearted American lawyers, who never gave up on us, and freed us. We would never be here if we didn't have the good American lawyers who helped us to be free. And for that we are very, very thankful.

Q: What were you doing when you were apprehended in Afghanistan? There are U.S. officials who have said you had associations with the Taliban or al Qaeda or received weapons training. What do you say?

First of all, let me correct. I was not captured in Afghanistan. I was picked up by a Pakistani bounty hunter in Pakistan and sold to the U.S. military for $5,000.

You may wonder why I went to Pakistan, but I originally, initially, was hoping to get to Turkey to join the Uighur community in Turkey. My friend in Pakistan advised me that there was a Uighur village in Afghanistan where I can stay while my visa was processed and they told me they will call me and I can come back and get my passport and go to Turkey to earn more money and support my family. So basically my departure from China was seeking greater economic and political freedom to be able to live well.

Q: Did you ever receive anything like weapons training?

I reject the motion that I ever received military training. When I went to Afghanistan, I find that quite compelling to use that opportunity to study the Koran ... Uighurs are physically Muslim, but they don't really know how to read [religious texts]. That environment provided me an excellent opportunity, so I spent most of my time reading the Koran, learning Islamic, taking Islam, learning more about Islam.

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