Guantanamo Bay Photos Reveal Inner Workings Of The World’s Most Notorious Prison

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Over six years ago, President Obama vowed to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center – the world’s most controversial prison. To this day, the prison is still open, where prisoners are being held without charge or trial. Following the controversial trade of American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners at the camp, Guantanamo Bay is back in the spotlight.

Recently, reporter Sean Rayment and photographer Matt Sprake were given access to the detention center and have released a series of fascinating photographs that reflect the day to day lives of detainees and personnel on base. 

The present-day Guantanamo is a mix of working military base and eerie remnants of the notorious Camp X-ray, which severely damaged the nation’s international standing after 9/11.

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The prison was set up 12 years ago to detain foreign terrorism suspects, and to this day it still holds approximately 149 inmates. The complex is part of a large naval base that the U.S. pays $4,000 a year to rent, although Cuban leader Fidel Castro allegedly never cashes the check out of protest. But although America is technically getting the property for free, the base is far from a steal. In 2013, dean of the Guantanamo Bay media corps Carol Rosenberg estimated that the upkeep of the base’s facilities are costing the U.S. at least $500 million annually.

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The base itself feels like suburban America – with a pub, burger joints and a Starbucks. However, the prison over the hill looks exactly like  the high-security federal complexes that carry the history of Camp X-ray.

The inmates inside are said to be terrorist, al-Qaeda commanders and bomb-makers. These men had been transported by the US military to Guantanamo’s Camp X-Ray from Afghanistan, where they were tortured by CIA agents to gather data about Osama bin Laden. Although that camp is now closed and overrun with foliage, the 2002 images of inmates bound and gagged on the Camp X-ray floor are shocking to this day.

Now, prisoners are split into two groups – ‘compliant’ prisoners and ‘non-compliant’ and they either live in Camp V or Camp VI. Compliant prisoners have access to a library of 25,000 books, films and are fed a balanced diet. They are even offered classes in computer studies, Spanish and English.

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Non-compliant prisoners are kept in 9ft by 10ft cells for 22 hours per day with only magazines and a copy of the Koran.

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There is another camp, whose existence was denied until recently, called Camp VII. Secretive and with no cameras, this camp is directly overseen by the CIA. One of the prisoners there, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, has been charged with planning 9/11.

One of the reasons President Barack Obama wants to close Guantanamo Bay is because it is the most expensive prison in existence. According to the Pentagon, each prisoner costs the U.S. about $1 million annually. In comparison, even the most secure prisons in the US spend only about $60-70,000 to house an inmate. The average cost per inmate is about $30,000.

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Obama also claims that the prison, which was set up by George W. Bush, has long been criticized by rights groups and foreign governments, making it a stain on the nation’s reputation. However, despite the president’s plans to close the prison, Guantanamo and its prisoners continue to live on.

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