If there is one thing Abdulqader Guled Said regrets, it is accepting a ride home from his brother four years ago. French authorities abducted and detained the 35-year-old Somali fisherman and his brother Daher Guled Said in April 2008. At the time, Said had no clue why.
On their drive home from the port city of Gara'ad, Somalia, the brothers were restrained, blindfolded and immediately airlifted from a Somali desert road by French authorities under suspicion of participating in the hijacking of a French luxury yacht one week earlier.
Daher had actually been involved in the hijacking, unbeknownst to Said, yet both men along with several other Somalians were detained.
"It was awful. I was on my own in a very small cell," Mr. Said told the BBC about his four years in detention.
"Not understanding a word of what I was told. Not being able to communicate with the other detainees. The pain was deep. I suffered a lot," he said.
A Paris court ultimately acquitted Said last June, while his brother and three other detained Somalians were found guilty of piracy. Five years later, Said remains in France, broken and abandoned. The husband and father of one has requested asylum in France, for fear of being named a conspirator to the French by his fellow Somalians.
He hired a lawyer to seek compensation for his unwarranted abduction and imprisonment and the psychological trauma from which he suffers. Last October, the government was ordered to pay Said 90,000 Euros ($119,000), an amount Said's lawyer considered insubstantial in comparison to similar cases. They are currently appealing for a larger compensation and filing a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.
Said has yet to receive his compensation and lives on a monthly government grant of 280 Euros per month — enough for one meal a day. He plans to have his family join him, if granted asylum.
In the meanwhile, Said continues to regret catching a ride with Daher and missing his son's birthdays.
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(Photo: THOMAS COEX/AFP/GettyImages)