A Guantanamo Detainee Starts Over in Nice

Lakhdar Boumediene in Nice; Photo by Ed Alcock for the New York Times

After 7 horrific years in Guantanamo, how do you start over?

After his questionable arrest in Bosnia in 2002 and subsequent transfer to Guantanamo, his wife and daughters fled to Nice to be with her family;  7 years later, when Lakhdar Boumediene was released after years of hunger strikes, he too came to Nice to see if there was any shred of his former life to be salvaged.

After his release he could barely walk, his wrists are still scared from years of handcuffs, he can’t be in crowds and has difficulty in closed rooms.

Nowadays he rarely talks about his past and lives a quiet life with his family, but you can’t help but wonder how the marriage could stay intact, as he is surely a vastly different man after what he experienced.  It’s a testament to the strength of the human spirit that they are still together and now even have a new son.

Mr Boumediene doggedly looks for work, but of course that missing 7 years from his CV needs an explanation, which tanks any hope of a job.   The French government is providing subsidized housing but he does not have French residency or asylum, and as the American authorities lost his Bosnian and Algerian passports which have yet to be reissued, so after three years he is still effectively sans papiers.

All of this from a fascinating profile published last weekend in the New York Times, which details the questionable circumstances that landed Mr Boumediene in Guantanamo, what he experienced while there, how he was ultimately released, along with more on his life here in Nice as well as his thoughts about America and Americans… which are not what you would expect.  Click here to read the full story from the New York Times by Scott Sayare.

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