He was one of the inmates of Guantánamo, an open-air prison initiated in 2001 by the administration of George W. Bush . The life of Mohamedou Ould Slahi is at the heart of the feature film The Mauritanian by Kevin MacDonald, in theaters on July 14, which looks back on the fourteen years of detention of this Mauritanian national embodied, on screen, by Tahar Rahim .
An engineer by training, Mohamedou Ould Slahi joined Afghanistan in the early 1990s to fight against the communist regime within Al-Qaeda. He claims to have cut ties with the organization in 1992, returning to Germany to resume his studies, before settling in November 1999 in Quebec. A month later, Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian national, is arrested for having instigated a bombing in Los Angeles airport. Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who attended the same mosque as the accused, finds himself in the sights of the American authorities. Arrested and then released for the first time on his return to Mauritania, he was arrested again in Nouakchott on November 20, 2001, then transferred to Jordan, where interrogations under torture began, in Afghanistan and finally in September 2002 in Guantánamo, center of detention located in the south-east of Cuba, opened in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Suspected of being part of the Hamburg cell, some of whose members were the brains of the World Trade Center attacks, implicated because he had kept in touch with one of his cousins, adviser to Osama bin Laden, Mohamedou Ould Slahi is the ideal suspect. In his book Guantánamo Diary, published in 2005, he recounts the tortures and humiliations, approved by the American government, which he undergoes in this camp outside any legal framework. Daily interrogations, sleep deprivation, sexual assault, he was even taken to sea one day, blindfolded, beaten and forced to drink salt water. He confesses to having made false confessions, with the sole aim of putting an end to his torments: “Once the Americans say that you are a bad person, everyone considers you a bad person and nobody bother to check. to make sure it’s true, ”he told the Press.
If he thought he would be cleared quickly, Mohamedou Ould Slahi actually spent fourteen years in Guantánamo without ever being charged. Thanks to the help of his lawyer Nancy Hollander (played by Jodie Foster ), justice ordered his release in 2010, but his ordeal did not end until October 17, 2016. At the same time, he fought against the intelligence services for that the pages of his book, written during his detention and seized as classified documents, be finally returned to him. Today, the 50-year-old Mauritanian has taken refuge in his native country, and lives in the desert in Nouakchott. Despite the closure promises of Barack Obama, and the frequent human rights violations that take place there, Guantánamo prison is still in use.