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The Forever Prisoner

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COLLATERAL DAMAGE In HBO Max's The Forever Prisoner, through archival film and images, interviews, and re-creations, we revisit the story of Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi Arabian who's been in U.S. custody for 20 years without any formal charges. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO DOCUMENTARY FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of HBO Documentary Films
  • COLLATERAL DAMAGE In HBO Max's The Forever Prisoner, through archival film and images, interviews, and re-creations, we revisit the story of Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi Arabian who's been in U.S. custody for 20 years without any formal charges.

What's it rated? Not rated

When? 2021

Where's it showing? HBO Max

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This HBO Max documentary is important reminder that the Muslim world has a very good reason to think of the USA as a land of hypocrites. We may profess to be freedom loving and ruled by law, but try telling that to Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi Arabian captured in Pakistan in March 2002 and currently imprisoned by the U.S. in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. He's never been charged with a crime and has no legal pathway to appeal his detainment. As the doc's title suggests, he is The Forever Prisoner.

After capture, Zubaydah disappeared into the CIA's secret prison network for more than four years, during which he was water-boarded more than 80 times and tortured via forced nudity, sleep deprivation, confinement boxes, starvation, stress positions, and beatings. Instead of being some kind of a terrorist mastermind, he appears to be more of a wannabe who was on the fringe of jihad. He had nothing to do with 9/11.

It's a disturbing film as we travel back in time to those dark, fearful post-9/11 days, when we collectively lost our minds and souls as we stood by as the Bush administration betrayed American ideals. We like to think of ourselves as the good guys, the heroes, but The Forever Prisoner reminds us that we weren't then and we're not now. (119 min.) Δ

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