Weeks after detainees at Guantanamo Bay were said to be voracious readers of Fifty Shades of Grey, a prisoner turned a copy of the book over to his lawyer. But attorney James Connell says his client, Ammar al-Baluchi, had never heard of the book before guards gave him a copy Monday.
Baluchi “was more amused than offended,” the attorney tells the BBC, which notes that Connell and his client view the gift of the “fairly worn” paperback as either a practical joke or part of a disinformation campaign. They met on Wednesday for a pretrial hearing for Baluchi, who is accused of aiding the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers.
“Mr Connell said his client has not read the book,” the BBC reports. “He is an avid reader of The Economist and Wired magazine – and the novel did not interest him, said the lawyer.”
The racy novel and other books in the trilogy by E.L. James were said to be popular among the detainees, after Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., visited the Guantanamo prison’s Camp Seven in July.
From The Huffington Post:
“Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the [high-value detainees] is Fifty Shades of Grey. They’ve read the entire series in English, but we were willing to translate it,” Moran, who advocates for closing the facility, told HuffPost. “I guess there’s not much going on, these guys are going nowhere, so what the hell.”
Connell, who says the book doesn’t bear any markings that would identify it as the property of the detainee library, plans to turn it over to senior officials at the base.
During a visit to the Guantanamo facility’s library earlier this summer, Reuters reported seeing “an eclectic mix of books in numerous languages, from religious tomes to Star Trek novelizations, Agatha Christie mysteries, stress reduction workbooks and the Greek classic The Odyssey.”
A librarian at the prison also told Reuters that they also offer prisoners the book and film versions of The Hunger Games.
The library’s offerings were in the news earlier this week, when it refused to accept a donated copy of Stephen King’s 1986 novel It.
The Miami Herald reports that the library called the book’s refusal an oversight, noting that it already has a copy of the book among its 19,000 titles. The book was one of about 70 that were donated by a man whose father died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
As NPR reported last year, Fifty Shades of Grey “emerged from the steamy land of fan fiction, an online community of readers who write unauthorized extensions of their favorite stories,” to become a No. 1 hit.
But while popular, the novel isn’t for everyone. After Random House said that it sold 35 million copies of the book in nine months, NPR’s Lynn Neary, who admits to being “a bit of a prude,” wondered whether it was snobbery or prudery that kept some people from reading it.