WORLD EXCLUSIVE, FRIDAY, JUNE 12: One of the four former Guantanamo prisoners said today he is looking forward to building friendships in Bermuda and becoming a hard-working member of society.
Salahidin Abdulahat, 32, thanked the people of Bermuda for their hospitality and said he was overjoyed to be free after almost eight years in captivity. He also said he was looking forward to being granted a Bermuda [ie. British overseas territory] passport so that he can travel beyond the island's shores.



WORLD EXCLUSIVE PHOTO: New home - the four Chinese Muslims are seen here arriving at Bermuda International Airport on Wednesday evening.



News of the Chinese Muslim's arrival on the island has swept across the globe. Meanwhile, the former prisoners themselves have kept a low profile, with their lawyer saying they are "shell-shocked" by the international attention and by their sudden freedom.
In the first interview given by any of the men, the Bermuda Sun spoke to Mr. Abdulahat via an interpreter. Mr. Abdulahat said: "I have been in jail for over seven years. Innocently. I am extremely happy and very grateful to the Bermudian people for allowing us here and giving us the opportunity to live here peacefully. I feel that this is a beautiful place with very kind people. I want to repeat what I said: I am extremely pleased and happy and excited to be here, and extremely grateful to the Bermudian people and Government - the ministers who made such a difficult decision on our behalf."
Premier Ewart Brown said yesterday the four men would be found housing and helped to find a job. Dr. Brown said the men had skills in the mechanical trade. Asked what his hopes are for employment, Mr. Abdulahat said: "First I would like to rest for a couple of weeks. Then I would like the Government and the people to give me an opportunity to work. I am healthy and want to be able to make a living. Any kind of job that is out there that the Government arranges for me I will do."
Government also said the men would be given the chance to become "naturalized Bermudians." Asked about this today, the men's lawyer said the legality and logistics of that is up to Government.
Asked about his hope for a passport, Mr. Abdulahat said: "I hope to become resident here. I would love to have a Bermudian passport and live here as a normal member of society." He continued: "My hope for the future is to have a peaceful life here in Bermuda and a good friendship with Bermuda's people."
Mr. Abdulahat also spoke briefly of his almost eight years in the Guantanamo Bay prison. He said his treatment varied, and he spent one full year in solitary confinement, which he described as "brutal." He said he was thankful to have remained healthy despite his ordeals.


WORLD EXCLUSIVE PHOTO: Welcome to paradise - the four Chinese Muslims spent years in harsh captivity - and years more in political limbo - before Bermuda offered them a home.
The men understandably say they are delighted to be here.