At Home in Guantánamo Bay

President Barack Obama has promised to close the US prison at Guantánamo Bay within a year. But dozens of innocent detainees, like the author, have nowhere to go, because they face torture and abuse in their home countries.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY – I write this from the United States Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay, where I have been held without charge for almost seven years.

My detention here is the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. More than two years ago, I was notified that I was cleared for release. I would have been happy about this news if I did not come from Uzbekistan, a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world. It is not safe for me to go home.

My journey to Guantánamo began in December 1998, after I finished my mandatory service in the Uzbek army. Uzbekistan, a former Soviet Republic, is a poor country without many employment opportunities. After several months of job hunting, I joined my brother in a business venture buying and selling apples, honey, and other goods in neighboring Tajikistan. I lived in a community of Uzbeks, and met my wife, Fatima, another Uzbek, while living there. We had a child, and my mother came from Uzbekistan to join us.

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