Mauritanian national Mohamedou Slahi, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee turned best-selling author and human rights advocate, has been denied a visa to enter Japan for a second time, sources close to the matter revealed on Sunday.

Reasons for Visa Rejection

His latest application was turned down in January. Japan’s Foreign Ministry didn’t provide any details as to why it came to the decision, just stating that he did not meet the requirements for visa issuance. Slahi, who was detained without charge by the US at its Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba between 2002 and 2016, was also denied entry to Japan in 2020.

Slahi says that this time, as with 2020, he was planning to speak about “how to build peace beyond religion and national position in a world where conflicts continue unabated.” The lecture was scheduled for March. Unsurprisingly, he was both shocked and disappointed by the decision. “I thought Japan was a free, democratic, and peace-loving country,” he was quoted as saying. Shinichi Ishizuka, a professor emeritus at Ryukoku University and representative director of Criminal Justice Future, questioned why Slahi wasn’t allowed to enter Japan when he was able to visit France and the UK. He believes the government here has likely branded him “as a terrorist.”

Mohamedou Slahi

Who is Mohamedou Slahi?

A Mauritanian engineer, Mohamedou Slahi swore allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 1991. After leaving Afghanistan for a second time, he claimed that he had severed all ties with the pan-Islamist militant organization. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Slahi was brought in for questioning by Mauritanian authorities and detained for seven days. Transported to a Jordanian prison, he was held for eight months, during which time he was tortured. In August 2002, he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. In his 14 years there, Slahi was subjected to beatings, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures and isolation. On one occasion, he was taken out to sea for a mock execution.

In 2005, Slahi’s case was taken on by criminal defense lawyer Nancy Hollander. He was eventually released in 2016. A year earlier, a heavily redacted version of his memoir, Guantánamo Diary, was released. A restored edition with the redactions removed was published in 2017. An international bestseller, the book has been translated into more than 20 languages, including Japanese. In 2021, The Mauritanian, a film based on the memoir, was released, directed by Kevin Macdonald. French actor Tahar Rahim played Slahi, while Jodie Foster took on the role as Hollander.

Related Posts