- Arrested by U.S. authorities in 2003.
- Imprisoned for seven years by U.S. military without charge or trial.
- Had no hearing in the first six years of captivity.
- His first and only hearing, in 2010, lasted about five minutes.
- P.K. was assigned a “personal representative” from the U.S. military, but no one presented any evidence his hearing.
- Transferred from Bagram prison last year to Afghan authorities.
- Released two months later without explanation.
P.K.: “My personal representative didn’t talk about any evidence. He was in the hearing, but he didn’t say anything.”
P.K., a husband, father and businessman from Logar province, was detained for seven years by U.S. authorities at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan before being released in Feb. 2010. He was not allowed to attend a hearing or trial for his first six years in detention, and did not know the charges against him. His family didn’t know where he was until they were contacted by the Red Cross about six months after his arrest. His only contact with his family during his seven years in prison was through the Internet or letters delivered by the Red Cross.
P.K. was eventually given a hearing by the U.S. military at Bagram which lasted about five minutes. There was no evidence presented, he says, although he was represented by a U.S. military soldier called a “personal representative” at the hearing.
After the hearing, P.K. was transferred to an Afghan prison and released about two months later without explanation.
HRF: Can you describe the circumstances of your arrest?
P.K.: I was living in Kabul. Afghan and foreign soldiers came to the apartment. Only Afghan soldiers entered. My father opened the door. They arrested my brother, then arrived at my room. One looked familiar to me. I had just my T-shirt on. I asked them, “why did you come in here?” I told them, “I live here, if you needed me, you could just tell me.” They were quiet. I put on my clothes and said, “let’s go.”
They were not violent. When they brought me from the apartment, I was not blindfolded. Then they blindfolded me, took me into a military vehicle and drove me to Bagram.
HRF: What were the conditions like at Bagram?
I didn’t know if it was day or night. It was like a big garage, they had built small rooms in it. I was given a meal. Then I was taken to interrogation. I was not treated badly.
HRF: What did they ask you about in interrogation?
P.K.: They asked me about my family, my business, everything. They were asking if I had links with the Taliban. But I was a commander in Hekmatyar, which had bad relations with the Taliban. They knew that. We came to Afghanistan when Karzai came.
At the end, the soldiers told me we were suspicious. They interrogated me more than 50 times.
In the beginning, I was interrogated continuously. Then once a day, then once a week, then once a month. By the end, it was just once a year. But in the first six years in prison, I never had a hearing or a trial.
HRF: Were you ever moved to a different cell?
P.K.: I was first held at the small cells, for about 3 months. Later, they built other places. The food changed, interrogation changed, treatment changed. When the commanders changed, they would bring changes. They created better food, more time for exercise.
At first they served MREs, military food, because there was no kitchen. Later they served real food in a kitchen. By 2004 I was eating real food.
HRF: Did you have any contact with your family?
P.K.: I had contact with my family only by the internet, and I wrote letters through the Red Cross. My family didn’t know the charges at all, they were asking me. But I didn’t know know, either.
HRF: How often were you visited by the ICRC?
P.K.: The ICRC visited for the first time about 5-6 months after I arrived at Bagram, and about once a month after that. They brought me photos of my newly-born baby. They didn’t ask whether I was guilty or innocent. I never told them, because they didn’t have authority to do anything. They couldn’t even bring me shoes for exercise, though I asked for them.
HRF: Were you ever moved to a new prison?
P.K.: In the last two years, the soldiers changed our location to a new place. The room was bigger, there was more room for exercise.
HRF: Were you ever given a hearing by the American authorities?
P.K.: In the last year, they made a board. They would call the detainee, with a representative. They would ask us to explain why we were arrested. They would read the charges, ask if I agree or not.
I haven’t seen myself, personally, any other system. This was the very first time. About 1-2 weeks before the board hearing, someone came, an American soldier, and said I’m your representative. He explained the charges and the process. He said you will defend against those charges.
HRF: When did you first learn about the board hearings?
P.K.: I first heard about it from other detainees, that the board was created. Some had been before the board already. The detainees were very happy about creation of this board.
HRF: Did they tell you the charges or produce any evidence against you in the hearing?
P.K.: I don’t remember the exact charge. They said I was involved in terrorist activities. But I was coming from Logar Province. At that time there were no terrorist activities there. I said, “the people gave you wrong information.” I asked them who has given this report about me, but they wouldn’t tell me. I said, “bring him to face me and put him on trial.” They refused to tell me.
HRF: Were there any witnesses at your hearing?
P.K.: No. There was a translator. There were about 15 people in the room, including the interpreter, the judges and the representative. The person in charge of the hearing said you have not done any job with coalition forces. They asked me if I was willing to serve my country and my people. I said I was.
HRF: What did the personal representative do at the hearing?
P.K.: My personal representative didn’t talk about any evidence. There was just a piece of paper with three charges. The P.R. was in the hearing, but he didn’t say anything.
Before the hearing, he gave me advice to be calm and respectful at the hearing. But nobody asked about evidence.
HRF: Did you say anything at the hearing?
P.K.: I had my statement, I talked against the charges. They told me that during the time I have spent in the detention center, there was no report that I had done anything bad.
I don’t remember what I said, but I rejected the charges, said I’m not involved in this. It’s a plot against me.
My trial did not last even 5 minutes. Three weeks later, they told me I’d be transferred to an Afghan jail, and then released.
About 20 days after the hearing, I was told I would be transferred to an Afghan jail. I was transferred there for about 60 days.
When they told me I would be transferred to an Afghan jail, I told them that was bad, I didn’t want to go to an Afghan jail because they will want bribe or money from me. My representative said no, you served your time already. He said you will be released if you just give them an assurance. He told me I would spend a short time in Afghan jail. He was an honest man.
HRF: So what happened? Did you have to pay anyone?
P.K.: I was transferred to Block D. I didn’t have to pay.
I spent 40-50 days in the jail. Conditions were good. Food was Afghan food. In Bagram, we had different food.
In the new jail, detainees were happy. We had good food, and exercise. Within 1 ½ – 2 months, the district chief of Logar province and the elders gave a guarantee. I don’t know how. They didn’t come to the jail. The representative told me in Bagram that they will ask for a guarantee for me.
In Afghan procedure, when you’re released from jail, your relatives talk to the people to say that we guarantee against any bad doings of this person in the future. They sign a document, and it is put in the Attorney General’s office. They got that for me.
HRF: Were you ever compensated for the time you spent in prison?
P.K.: They didn’t give me any compensation. They just said “we are sorry that you spent a long time with us.” I had permission to have 2 AK-47s at home, but they didn’t return my weapons. I believe the Afghan soldiers took the weapons, not the Americans. Afghan police & soldiers do that. They gave me a document, but I don’t know what it said. It was in English, Pashto and Persian.
HRF: How are you now that you are free?
P.K.: I have some problems mentally now. I get angry very easily. And I have chest problems. I got this chest problem, shortness of breath, about two years before, while I was at Bagram. They said it was asthma. They gave me a spray for it at Bagram, but I don’t have it anymore.