Djamel Ameziane

Djamel Ameziane (Photo by Debi Cornwall)

A refugee from Algeria, Djamel Ameziane was detained in Guantánamo Bay from 2002 – 2013.

Djamel was born into a large, close-knit Berber family that originates from the mountainous Kabylie region of Algeria. He was raised and educated in Algiers, and worked as a hydraulics technician after graduating from college. In the early 1990s he fled his home country to escape escalating violence and instability, and search for a better life. He lived and worked legally as a chef in a well-respected restaurant in Vienna, Austria.

However, following the 1995 election of a new government in Austria, Djamel’s visa and work permit were not renewed and he was forced to leave the country. He traveled to Canada where he sought asylum. But, after five years in Canada, his application was denied and he was forced to uproot again.

Displaced and still fearful of being returned to Algeria, perceiving that he had few options left after eight years of being denied refuge time and again, he fled to Afghanistan a few months before the September 11th attacks. After the U.S. invasion and the start of the war, he escaped across the border into Pakistan along with thousands of other refugees. He was rounded up by a local tribe that turned him over to Pakistani authorities, who then sold him to U.S. forces, reportedly for a bounty. Djamel never participated in any military training or fighting, and never committed a hostile act against anyone, but was sent to Guantánamo in February 2002, where he suffered abuse and solitary confinement for the next decade.

Djamel now resides in Algeria after being forcibly transferred there by the U.S government in 2013, despite his fears of persecution. 

Last modified 

December 7, 2015