Adel al Hakeemy

Tunisian Man Without a Country, Cleared for Release But Still at Guantánamo

Adel al Hakeemy was born in Ben Arous, Tunisia, in 1969. He was one of 10 siblings, and jobs were scarce in Tunisia, so at 16 he emigrated to Italy. There he secured legal residence and learned to cook, eventually working in well-regarded restaurants and as a chef’s assistant in a Bolognese hotel. In 1998, approaching the age of 30 and wanting to find a Muslim wife, he traveled to Pakistan and was married there. The in-laws asked him to move with them to Afghanistan, and a false Belgian passport was arranged. They settled in Jalalabad and talked about starting a restaurant there, serving European-style food, with Adel as the chef.

Then, in 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan. Adel fled the war zone, but was captured by Pakistani bounty hunters—possibly on false information from an Italian source—and sold to US forces. He was taken to Kandahar, tortured, and then sent to Guantánamo as an “enemy combatant.”  His daughter Hind was born while he was in Cuba. On February 12, 2012, he will have been there for 10 years.

According to the British organization Reprieve, Italian interrogators visited him and other Italian residents at Guantánamo in 2002 and 2003 and shared their information with the US authorities. Hakeemy later told his lawyers, “I was in Camp Delta when the Italians came. I told them we were treated badly. One of them agreed with everything I said about my treatment, and said he knew what was happening here.”

After Reprieve issued its report and an article about the men appeared in the newspaper La Repubblica, 41 Italian Senators demanded an investigation into Italy’s role in interrogating the men and in what it termed their extraordinary rendition.