An ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee says he still remembers Ron DeSantis smiling at him from behind a fence while he was being force-fed: 'You cannot forget that'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.Michael Reaves via Getty Images

  • An ex-Gitmo detainee said Ron DeSantis smiled at him as he was being force-fed, per The Daily Beast.

  • The remarks come from an unaired documentary transcript detailing DeSantis’ time as a Navy lawyer.

  • “I cannot forget when he was there watching us with the force-feeding,” the ex-detainee said.

An ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee says he remembers, to this day, how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis smiled at him from behind a fence while watching him get force-fed, per the Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast reported on Saturday that they obtained a verified transcript of an unaired VICE documentary titled “The Guantanamo Candidate.” This included an interview with a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Mansoor Adayfi, who was suspected of being an al Qaeda operative before his release in 2016. Adayfi now lives in Serbia.

Adayfi said he first met DeSantis in 2006 when the Florida Republican went to Guantanamo along with several groups who’d “arrived to bring the camp under control.” At the time, Adayfi and the other detainees were on a hunger strike to protest against their imprisonment, per Adayfi’s account. DeSantis, who was then a US Navy lawyer, was providing legal advice to the detention center.

“As I’m looking at you now, I could see them standing behind the fence, watching and looking at us,” Adayfi said, per the transcript, adding that DeSantis was “smiling.”

“While being you, screaming and shouting and bleeding and like, throwing up and shitting on yourself, and someone is smiling at you? You cannot forget that,” Adayfi continued.

Adayfi added in the documentary interview that he came across DeSantis’ photo years later, and saw his name.

“I cannot forget when he was there watching us with the force-feeding,” he said. “You cannot forget that because those people left really bad scars in your soul.”

Showtime pulled the documentary before it was slated to air on May 28, per The Hollywood Reporter. A Showtime representative told The Hollywood Reporter that they “don’t comment on scheduling decisions.” The television network also did not explain why the episode was dropped.

DeSantis has denied participating in or authorizing the force feeding of people imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

This stands in stark contrast to a 2018 CBS interview, during which DeSantis told a reporter that JAG legal advisers told Guantanamo Bay commanders that people “can force-feed” and laid out the “kind of the rules for that.” The Washington Post separately reported in March that DeSantis had a close look at disturbing incidents that happened at the camp, citing two former detainees, base officials, and defense lawyers.

And in April, the governor lost his cool with a reporter while being questioned about Adayfi’s claims at a press conference.

“Do you honestly believe that’s credible?” DeSantis said in April. “I’m a junior officer, do you honestly think that they would’ve remembered me?”

DeSantis’ denial came after Adayfi wrote in an Al Jazeera op-ed in April that DeSantis witnessed him being strapped to a chair and force-fed through a feeding tube.

“As I tried to break free, I noticed DeSantis’s handsome face among the crowd at the other side of the chain link. He was watching me struggle. He was smiling and laughing with other officers as I screamed in pain,” Adayfi wrote.

In the Al Jazeera piece, Adayfi said DeSantis wasn’t the person who ordered that the hunger strike be broken violently — he just watched.

“He was just a guy who claimed he was there to help us and then just watched while we were being tortured,” wrote Adayfi.

“He did not torture me, but he sure seemed to take joy from it,” Adayfi added.

Representatives for the DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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