Inside the Gaming Library at Gitmo, America's Controversial Military Prison

When detainees need relief, they turn to Harry Potter and PS3 games.
July 25, 2017

In 2002, the United States government detained a Mauritanian man, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and sent him to Gitmo. As Slahi waited to be charged (he never was), he penned a 446-page memoir that detailed the many strategies he employed to endure his years of confinement.

In it, he talks extensively of his fascination with games, an interest he developed only after his arrival to the detention facilities.

"Before prison, I didn't know the difference between a pawn and the rear end of a knight, nor was I really big gamer. But I found in chess a very interesting game, especially the fact that a prisoner has total control over his pieces, which gives him some confidence back."

Slahi is one of the roughly 780 detainees known to have passed through the Gitmo detention facilities; as of July 2017, 41 remain. Over the past 15 years, many detainees have requested and read books from the Detainee Library. Journalists have actively documented what titles appear on the shelves, and in recent years, the inventory has grown to include not only DVDs, but also PS3 games.

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Last modified 

July 25, 2017