Is a man held by Israel a former Guantánamo captive? Apparently not


A Palestinian man held by the Israelis has been identified in some reports as a one-time Guantánamo prisoner; but the U.S., his lawyer and a records search say it’s not true.

Samer Abdul Latif al-Barq, 38, is a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli military jail who has gone on a hunger strike at times to protest his detention without charge or trial. Israel’s Supreme Court is considering whether the government can keep him as an alleged al-Qaida-trained biological weapons expert or must let him go.

Contrary to reports that appeared this week on the web, however, he was not one of the 779 men who’ve been in detention at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, since the war-on-terror prison camps opened in 2002.

Barq’s attorney, Saleh Mahamid, said by telephone from Israel on Wednesday that his client was held prisoner in Pakistan and Jordan, where he was never charged, he was not held at the prison camps in Cuba.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said a wide-ranging search found no record that Barq was ever in Department of Defense custody. “We’ve hit every available system, and the DOD has no record of ever having held this individual.”

A Miami Herald search of both official and leaked Guantánamo records found no individual by Barq’s name in the Herald’s documents.

According to the Palestinian human rights group Addameer, which has campaigned for his freedom, Barq is a Pakistani-educated science teacher. He left Pakistan in 2003 for Jordan, where the intelligence service held him off and on for interrogation until 2010, when agents handed him over to Israeli authorities at the Allenby Bridge — the conduit over the Jordan River between the two nations. In Israel he’s held in “administrative detention,” a process that requires review of his status every six months.

It was not possible to determine whether, during the years that Barq was held prisoner in Pakistan or Jordan, he was ever in custody of another entity of the U.S. government.

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