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In a Jail in Cuba Beat the Heart of a Poet

Eventually, he said, the interrogators seemed convinced that he had not meant any serious harm. In February 2004, Dost said, he was transferred to another section of Guantanamo where he had access to as much paper as he wanted.

He continued to produce hundreds of poems, translated the Koran into Pashto and wrote a text on Islamic jurisprudence.


Afghan men arrived at the Supreme Court in the Afghan capital, Kabul, after their release from a U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Tuesday. More than 500 detainees continue to be held at Guantanamo Bay. (Ahmad Masood -- Reuters)

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In the meantime, Dost said, he was taken before a review tribunal, a brief procedure that he described as a "show trial," even though it ultimately resulted in his release. To date, U.S. military officials said, 232 Guantanamo detainees have been released and more than 500 remain in custody.

Often, Dost said, the guards conducted raids when officials suspected a detainee had issued a fatwa -- an Islamic decree against them. Each time, all inmates' writings were confiscated. Dost said he was assured that his work would be returned to him on his release.

But when that day finally came last week, Dost said, he received only a duffel bag with a blanket, a change of clothes and a few hundred papers -- a fraction of his writings.

This parting blow, he said, struck him harder than all the humiliations of confinement. On Friday, as well-wishers swarmed into his home, he said his only thought was how to recover his work.

"If they give me back my writings, truly I will feel as though I was never imprisoned," he said. "And if they don't . . . "

Dost's voice trailed off. For the first time in three years, he was at a loss for words.


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