London – As reported by The Baffler, Harper’s Magazines and the Miami Herald, CAGE can reveal that Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, a front runner for the Republican Party nomination, has been allegedly complicit in the torture and abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Former prisoners have come forward to tell their stories of DeSantis, their interactions and experiences with him and his alleged role in their abuse and torture.
DeSantis was appointed an attorney for the US military at Guantanamo Bay in 2006. As a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer, DeSantis’s role at the prison was to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the prisoners following a mass hunger strike in response to 4 years of torture, abuse and inhumane conditions. However, according to many former prisoners CAGE has spoken to, conditions at the camp further deteriorated and the torture and abuse faced by prisoners worsened, despite having detailed their plight to DeSantis.
This is unsurprising as DeSantis has always viewed the prison as a terrorist detention facility and in 2016, as a congressman he signed legislation that would prevent the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison. DeSantis has also often joked of his time in Guantanamo Bay as “an officer, not as a detainee.”
Anas Mustapha, Head of Public Advocacy at CAGE said:
“Ron DeSantis’s position as the governor of Florida and a front runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination reveals a worrying lack of scrutiny into his tenure as a JAG Officer at Guantanamo Bay prison in 2006. That DeSantis has been able to secure a position in the upper echelons of US politics, despite being complicit in the torture and abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, shows the disregard the US government has for human rights – the very notion it used in the propagation of its disastrous and calamitous so-called ‘War on Terror’.”
Mansoor Adayfi, former Guantanamo Bay prisoner of 15 years and CAGE’s Guantanamo Project Coordinator said:
“I remember talking to him about our problems and he told us that he was there to ensure we are treated humanely. I don’t know what is humane in his standard, he watched us suffer and heard our loud screams, and he knew all about it, I don’t think he opposed or minded any of it.”
“Ron DeSantis was there watching and was part of the camp administration. He was there when we were tortured on the force-feeding chairs, he was there when interrogators were torturing us, he was there when our brothers died, he was there when the camp administrators abused us day and night, he was there watching kids trapped in those cages, he was there and witnessed it all.”
Fayez al-Kandary, another former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, said of DeSantis:
“It’s Ron DeSants. He was our officer in Guantanamo Bay. He participated in torturing hunger strikers in 2005. He was known to the detainees and the soldiers for deception, lying, cunning and opportunism. Some of the detainees splashed urine on his face and spat on him because of his malice and hatred.”
One former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, who spoke anonymously to CAGE about his encounter with DeSantis, said:
“Seeing his face brought a lot of painful memories during one of the worst years at Guantanamo Bay.”
Another former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, who spoke anonymously to CAGE about his encounter with DeSantis, said:
“I was one of the hunger strikers, I was force-fed for 10 years. In 2006, I was tortured by force feeding by the camp administration and the medical examiner until I passed out and was transferred to intensive care because of the torture. Officer DeSantis was among the officers supervising the force-feeding and torture we were subjected to in 2006. He visited us during the feeding with other officers, translators and investigators.”
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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)