Algeria: Abdelaziz Nadji, released from Guantanamo to be imprisoned at El-Harrach

Mr. Abdelaziz Nadji is a 37-year-old Algerian citizen from Batna who is handicapped after having lost a leg. He had been arrested in 2002 in Pakistan by the intelligence services and turned over to the American intelligence services. He was then transferred to Guantanamo where he was detained for eight years. He has testified that he was tortured in a continuous fashion.

Despite his refusal to be sent back to Algeria, where he feared being the object of further persecution and ill treatment, he was finally released by the United States to the Algerian authorities on 19 July 2010. As soon as he arrived at the Algiers airport he was taken by agents of the department of intelligence and security (DRS) who brought him to a secret detention center, notwithstanding diplomatic assurances by the Algerian authorities to the US Department of State.

Mr. Abdelaziz Nadji was placed in secret detention and was not released until after the mobilization on his behalf of local and international NGOs as well as several advocates. An article in the New York Times (1) was particularly influential. He was released under surveillance, although this was not authorized by a judicial decision. He was also obliged to present himself every Wednesday at 9 am to the military jail of the DRS in Batna, known as "the alleys."

On 15 January 2012 he learned that his trial had been scheduled for the next day in the Algiers criminal court but it had not been convened. He went to the court by himself and was sentenced 16 January 2012 to three years in prison for "belonging to a terrorist group activating abroad," much to the surprise of those involved. The evidence put forward by the court was the exact same as that put forth at Guantanamo. He was criticized for his enrollment in an organization classified as supporting terrorist agents in Indian Kashmir.

Mr. Nadji decided to appeal this decision. He started a hunger strike in protest of this clear violation of his fundamental rights and for being prosecuted a second time for criminal acts that he had already served eight years in arbitrary detention in inhumane conditions for.

His family has fought against the conviction of Abdelaziz NADJI who has already suffered enormously under torture in arbitrary detention at Guantanamo. Since his family's visit on 22 January to the El-Harrach Prison, they have stated that the state of his health is rapidly degrading.

Mr. Abdelaziz Nadji is one of the rare ex-detainees from Guantanamo who has been prosecuted and sentenced to prison in his country of origin. Before him, in 2007 a Tunisian court convicted Abdallah Hajji, a repatriated Tunisian who had been freed in June 2007 by the American authorities after five years in Guantanamo without any accusations being brought against him. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and was freed in January 2011 after the fall of the regime of Ben Ali.

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