Tuesday, January 12, 2010

GITMO Detainee and Guard Reunite on Facebook

Here's your bizarre news story of the day. It was hard to believe when I first read it.

Brandon Neely, an ex-guard at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center was new to Facebook in 2008. So while looking for friends on the social networking site, he decided to type in the names of a few detainees. Via the New York Times:

Mr. Neely, an Army veteran who spent six months at the prison in 2002, sent messages to one of the freed men, Shafiq Rasul, and was astonished when Mr. Rasul replied. Their exchanges sparked a face-to-face meeting, arranged by the BBC, which will be shown on Tuesday. Mr. Neely, who has served as the president of the Houston chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, says his time at Guantánamo now haunts him, and has granted confessional-style interviews about the abuses he says he witnessed there. In a message to Mr. Rasul, Mr. Neely apologized for his role in the imprisonment.

Gavin Lee, a BBC correspondent, learned about the Facebook messages from Mr. Rasul, who lives in Britain, and thought the situation was incredible. Mr. Lee tracked down Mr. Neely — on Facebook, naturally — and asked, “would you consider meeting face to face?”

“He thought about it and he said, ‘I would love to,’ ” Mr. Lee recalled last week. “I would love to apologize in person.”

You can watch their reunion tonight on the BBC World News America.

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