After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush began his War on Terror. The US government was hell-bent on fighting terrorism and started arresting any person even remotely suspicious. Mohamedou Ould Slahi was severely tortured and imprisoned for 15 years without being convicted – or even charged with a crime. Attorney Nancy Hollander took on his case to fight this state-ordered illegal conduct and to protect the rule of law. In 2016, she got Mohamedou Ould Slahi out of Guantánamo Bay.
The West often pretends to be a beacon of freedom – a place where democracy and justice always prevail. Ould Slahi’s story makes us wonder: is that true? Are we in the West really as humane and honest as we pretend? Who better to investigate this issue with than Ould Slahi himself, who experienced the power of the United States first hand, and with Hollander, who forced the U.S. government to adhere to its own standards?
On this evening, De Balie director Yoeri Albrecht will guide a conversation between Ould Slahi and Hollander about torture, human rights and the U.S. justice system. They will also talk about life after Guantánamo. After his release, Ould Slahi has continued to tell stories. His prison memoir has been turned into the Hollywood film The Mauritanian – a blistering translation of the failing rule of law.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Born in Mauritania, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (1970) was held in the infamous Guantánamo Bay prison for 14 years. He was tortured there, but no charges were ever brought against him. In 2015, while Ould Slahi was still incarcerated, his book Guantánamo Diary was published. In 2016, Ould Slahi was released. He moved back to Mauritania. This year, he is artist-in-residence at De Balie and at NITE (Club Guy & Roni and NNT).
Nancy Hollander (1944) is an internationally renowned criminal defense lawyer from the United States. She has practiced criminal and civil law, and was named as one of United States best 50 women litigators in 2001. One of her clients is WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning. She has represented two detainees from Guantánamo Bay, among whom Mohamedou Ould Slahi. In the feature film The Mauritanian, which was based on Ould Slahi’s memoir, she was portrayed by Jodie Foster.