Canongate has acquired an account of life at Guantanamo Bay by one of its prisoners, Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
Slahi is still imprisoned in the camp and the account of his time there has been sanctioned for publication after attorneys in the US fought for seven years to have the manuscript declassified and cleared for public release.
Canongate publisher Jamie Byng has bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein for the title Guantánamo Diary in a three-publisher auction.
The memoir is the first time a diary written by a prisoner while still detained in Guantánamo will be released to the public and it will form the basis of an international campaign to free Slahi amid “a storm of global publicity and a series of live events to raise awareness for the ongoing campaign for Slahi’s release.”
The title will be published simultaneously around the world on January 20th 2015 with Little, Brown publishing in the US. Rights in the diary have been sold in 11 other territories.
As well as offering “a unique and vital new perspective on the most controversial aspect of American foreign policy” the memoir will also give an “authoritative first-hand account of one of the most notorious and ongoing episodes in modern American history”. Canongate said the memoir was “deeply personal” and “terrifying, darkly humorous, and surprisingly gracious.”
It will be edited and introduced by author and human rights advocate Larry Siems.
Since 2002, Slahi has been imprisoned at the detainee camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba but has never been charged with a crime by the United States. His release has been ordered by a federal judge but there is no sign of any plans to let him go. “During his time in custody he has been subjected to multiple forms of torture including isolation, beatings, sexual humiliation, death threats, and a mock kidnapping and rendition,” Canongate said.
“Three years into his captivity, having learned English from prison guards, Slahi began a diary to recount both his life before he was seized by the United States and his experiences as a detainee.”