Image: Mustafa Ait Idr
Danilo Krstanovic  /  Reuters
Mustafa Ait Idir, one of three Algerians released this week from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, shows the documentation and letters that he had received from his family at his Sarajevo home on Wednesday.
updated 12/18/2008 1:49:20 PM ET 2008-12-18T18:49:20

A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who was released earlier this week claims he was abused and humiliated during his nearly seven years at the U.S. detention center for suspected terrorists, according to a TV interview released Thursday.

Mustafa Ait Idr, 38, was among the first Guantanamo detainees ordered freed by a U.S. federal judge. The 38-year-old Algerian-born man, who returned to Bosnia on Tuesday, told private television station Hayat that his captors abused him.

"There is nothing worse than that," said Ait Idr, who called Guantanamo "the worst place" imaginable.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ruled last month that Ait Idr and two other Algerian-born naturalized Bosnians should be released because the U.S. government's case was not strong enough to continue holding them. Leon said the evidence linking trio and two other Algerians to al-Qaida was not credible because it came from a single, unidentified source.

The order came in the first hearing on the Bush administration's evidence for keeping prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba as "enemy combatants."

The three had immigrated to Bosnia before they were detained in 2001 on suspicion of plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. They had been held at Guantanamo since January 2002.

Ait Idr declined a request by The Associated Press for an interview, saying he was exhausted and not ready to discuss his ordeal with U.S.-based media.

"I just came from there. I'm tired and they know my story over there anyway," he said in a brief telephone conversation.

'I see my children have grown'
Ait Idr told Hayat that his interrogators broke one of his fingers and captors insulted him and other Muslim prisoners by tossing the Quran — Islam's holy book — into a bathroom, ripping it and sitting on it.

"They did mistreat us. Not because we are terrorists, but because we are Muslims," he said.

Ait Idr, who had been exonerated by Bosnia's Supreme Court, said he is still struggling to understand why he was confined at Guantanamo, and expressed hope that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will soon close the detention center.

"Even the Americans told me: 'We do not know why you are here,'" he said. "They never told me I was al-Qaida or a terrorist."

Ait Idr said he plans to take a break and spend some time alone with his family in Bosnia, including his youngest son, Abdullah, who was born two months after Ait Idr was detained.

"I see my children have grown," he told Hayat. "The little one I have never seen before. This is the first time."

Despite his lengthy ordeal, Ait Idr said he has no plans to sue the U.S. government or anyone else.

"What is over is over. But there is Judgment Day, and God will try them," he said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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