January 13, 2021
This painfully worthy adaptation of former inmate Mohamedou Ould Salahi’s diary stars only good guys, and is hand-wringingly self congratulatory
The Mauritanian review – fence-sitting Guantánamo drama provides few answers
Any movie that reminds us of the ongoing civil rights scandal at the US’s extrajudicial detention camp at Guantánamo Bay should be a good thing: it’s still open for business right now, with 40 prisoners inside. The same goes for any reminder of the 9/11 terrorist outrage and the backlash of furious revenge it was designed to provoke, implanting a virus of rage and fear that threatens to live on in the American bloodstream like malaria.
But I was disappointed by this well-meaning movie, based on the true story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi from Mauritania in north-west Africa. A former muhajideen anti-communist fighter in Afghanistan in the 1990s, who was picked up and handed over to the US authorities after 9/11 (with the Mauritanian government’s permission) and kept at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial for a staggering 14 years, from 2002 to 2016; he was released when the state finally accepted his confessions were valueless, having been obtained through torture.
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