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Special delivery from campaigning Hagley doc
10:18am Thursday 14th May 2009 in News
A HAGLEY doctor fighting for prisoners in a notorious American detention camp made a special delivery to a former inmate.
Dr David Nicholl, who has spent years campaigning on behalf of detainees at the US military’s Guantanamo Bay centre, met ex-prisoner Omar Deghayes to handover a letter he first sent to ‘Detainee 727’ in October 2005.
Omar, aged 39, spent six years imprisoned at the camp where he says he was tortured, lost the sight in one eye and was held in solitary confinement without trial.
Dr Nicholl, an experienced human rights activist, said: “I wrote to him when he was merely ‘Detainee 727’ in Guantanamo Bay, but never got a reply.
“I wrote to him again - but this time I sent it recorded delivery, my letter was sent back to me as ‘return to sender - address unknown’.
“For the past three years, I’d kept the letter on my desk as a reminder of ‘work unfinished’ as I was always absolutely confident he would get his letter.”
The campaigning neurologist finally met up with Omar to hand over the letter in person on Sunday May 10.
Dr Nicholl, from Woodland Avenue, said: “It was quite a surreal experience to meet someone who I can genuinely say I’d played a small part in helping them get released from Guantanamo.”
Libyan-born Omar and his family fled to Britain as refugees in1987 after his father was executed in Libya for campaigning against the country’s regime.
Omar was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and accused of appearing in a Chechen rebel training videotape, a claim he strongly denies.
He was taken to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where he was told the British government could not work to release him because although he had UK resident’s status, he was not a British citizen.
He was informed he would have rely on the Libyan authorities for help and claims he was visited by Libyan officials who told him he would be killed if he returned to the African state.
Dr Nicholl said: “The low point was when I heard that he had been interrogated by the Libyan secret service in Guantanamo - the very people who had murdered his father.”
After pressure from campaigners the UK government intervened in 2007 and Omar, who studied law at Wolverhampton University, was released shortly after.
Dr Nicholl said: “It illustrates the vital importance of letter writing campaigns, they are quite literally the difference between freedom and torture for hundreds of people.”