May 2, 2008

The US army has banned the publication of four cartoons drawn by Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera cameraman held in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to his lawyer.

“You have to question, I have to question as an American, why the US government thinks that free speech in the form of this picture is a somehow a threat to US national security,” Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, said.

He suggested that the US military was censoring the images to keep details of the treatment of Guantanamo detainees out of the media.

“I have seen plenty of evidence that is extremely embarrassing to the American government, and that’s because this sort of picture gives you a visual image of what poor Sami goes through twice a day.

“I think a picture sometimes paints a thousand words, and I think that is what the US government is afraid of,” he told Al Jazeera.

Al-Hajj was seized by the US military while he was covering the war in Afghanistan for Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel and has been held as an “enemy combatant” without trial or charge since 2001.

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