On December 15, 2001, Sami al-Haj was on assignment for Al Jazeera to cover the aftermath of the Taliban's flight from Kandahar. While attempting to cross the border into Afghanistan al-Haj was detained under suspicion of having links to al-Qaeda. He was seized by authorities and was imprisoned for more than six years at the Guantánamo Bay detainment camp as an "enemy combatant." Over the six years, US authorities tried to convince al-Haj to become an informant against Al Jazeera. offering him freedom and a United States passport if he agreed. He refused, and on January 07, 2007, he began a hunger strike that would last for more than a year. He demanded that the protections of the Geneva Convention be applied to the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and called for his own release or trial by a US federal court. On May 01, 2008, al-Haj was released from Guantánamo Bay and flown to Sudan. He was never formerly charged with any crime and never faced trial. US authorities have attempted to get al-Haj banned from leaving Sudan or working as journalist in the future. For about a year before her death, Haideri's published articles in IWPR were printed under a pseudonym, and she had moved her husband and four children to Syria to escape persecution. Sami al-Haj was recently appointed as Al Jazeera's news producer for liberties and human rights affairs. In this new position, al-Haj will take responsibility for the network's coverage of human rights and civil liberties issues.
International Press Freedom Award