Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department denied a Russian delegation permission to visit with Ravil Mingazov (ISN 702), a detainee in Guantanamo Bay.
Mingazov is well known in Russia, as a former ballet dancer who had appeared on national television. He converted to Islam while living in Russia, but fled the country to Afghanistan to escape anti-Muslim prejudice. The U.S. captured Mingazov when he was found in a terrorist safe house in Pakistan in 2002. He is also accused of training in al-Qaeda linked camps. Mingazov conveyed, through his lawyers, that he fears returning to his country after the treatment other Russian former-detainees have received upon arriving home. According to Mingazov’s lawyers, “They were subject to persecution upon their release and based on that he does not want to go back.”
Mingazov was in fact ordered released by a federal judge in May of 2010, although he currently remains in Guantanamo. The US has appealed this decision. It is possible that his desire not to be returned to Russia will, or already has, held up his transfer. It is also possible that reasons unknown will keep him in Guantanamo Bay, like numerous other cleared detainees.
Although the State Department had facilitated the Russian delegation’s visit to the military base in Cuba, permission to visit with Mingazov was denied when he refused to see them. According to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, there is “a longstanding policy of not forcing such interviews if they’re not voluntary.”
Apparently detainees have a right to refuse foreign visits, but not food, as involuntarily force-feeding is ongoing during the current hunger strike. This highlights one of the many quandaries of Guantanamo Bay.
Ed Dabek, Research Fellow
Center for Policy and Research