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For 5 years, an innocent man was imprisoned and tortured. This is his story.

Bisher al-Rawi was wrongfully linked to terrorism after 9/11. So were others.

For 5 years, an innocent man was imprisoned and tortured. This is his story.

During a 2002 business trip in Gambia,  Bisher al-Rawi was kidnapped. For the next five years, he was tortured, imprisoned, and interrogated — though never charged with a crime.

A year into the U.S.-led "War on Terror," al-Rawi was detained, suspected of having terrorist connections, and shipped to a secret CIA prison in Kabul, Afghanistan. In February 2003, he was flown to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, his new home for the next four years.

His story is featured in a new video from Reprieve, a U.K.-based human rights organization in which celebrities like David Tennant and Harry Enfield tell stories of people who, like al-Rawi, were wrongfully imprisoned or convicted.


Al-Rawi speaks out about his time at Guantanamo after his release. GIF from Reprieve UK/YouTube.

Deprived of sleep, placed in solitary confinement for extended periods of time, beaten and subjected to daily interrogations, al-Rawi endured years of mistreatment based on suspicion of crimes he did not commit. In fact, as it turned out, until he was abducted, he had been helping the British spy agency MI5 in its efforts to fight terrorism.

His story, for what it's worth, has a relatively happy ending. In 2007, the British government helped lobby for al-Rawi's release from Guantanamo. It turned out that he was initially arrested after being found with a "suspicious device" — which was actually nothing more than a battery charger.

Like many held at Guantanamo, al-Rawi wasn't charged with a crime and wasn't given due process. While some detainees have been eventually released, many remain locked up after all these years.

A reported 59 prisoners are still being held at Guantanamo Bay, at the time of this writing. 20 of them remain imprisoned despite being cleared for release. 29 of them have not been charged with a crime. To keep someone locked up though they haven't committed a crime — as many of those in Guantanamo have not —  is to deny them basic human rights. It's inexcusable.

Since opening in January 2002, the facility has held 779 prisoners, and just eight of them were convicted by the Guantanamo military commission. Of those eight, three have been overturned and another three have been partially invalidated.

Guantanamo Bay. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

On his first day in office, President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. That hasn't happened, and come January, it may actually get much, much worse. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to keep Guantanamo open and "load it up with some bad dudes."

There are organizations working to put an end to state-sanctioned human rights violations, and they need our help.

Groups like Reprieve, the ACLU, and Amnesty International have been — and will continue to be — vital in fighting for human rights even when governments fail to do so. Injustice has always existed, but there are things we can do to fight back.

Watch Reprieve's "Last Words" video for more about al-Rawi and others like him who have been wronged by the criminal justice system.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

In the autumn of 1939, Chiune Sugihara was sent to Lithuania to open the first Japanese consulate there. His job was to keep tabs on and gather information about Japan's ally, Germany. Meanwhile, in neighboring Poland, Nazi tanks had already begun to roll in, causing Jewish refugees to flee into the small country.

When the Soviet Union invaded Lithuania in June of 1940, scores of Jews flooded the Japanese consulate, seeking transit visas to be able to escape to a safety through Japan. Overwhelmed by the requests, Sugihara reached out to the foreign ministry in Tokyo for guidance and was told that no one without proper paperwork should be issued a visa—a limitation that would have ruled out nearly all of the refugees seeking his help.

Sugihara faced a life-changing choice. He could obey the government and leave the Jews in Lithuania to their fate, or he could disobey orders and face disgrace and the loss of his job, if not more severe punishments from his superiors.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Sugihara was fond of saying, "I may have to disobey my government, but if I don't, I would be disobeying God." Sugihara decided it was worth it to risk his livelihood and good standing with the Japanese government to give the Jews at his doorstep a fighting chance, so he started issuing Japanese transit visas to any refugee who needed one, regardless of their eligibility.

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