In recent months, those who have been studying Guantánamo closely have come to the disturbing conclusion that the biggest obstacle to President Obama’s pledge to close Guantánamo by January 2010 comes not from the fearmongering and opportunistic politicians who recently voted to prohibit the use of any funds to release or to transfer prisoners to the United States, and who also authorized legislation that “requires the President to report periodically to Congress on the status of Guantánamo Bay detainees and plans for their transfer,” but from the administration’s own Justice Department.
Echoing the position taken by the Bush administration, Eric Holder’s Justice Department is pursuing patently indefensible cases that should have been dropped before being presented to a judge, and is also engaged in what appears to be a systematic policy of delays when it comes to providing exculpatory material to the prisoners’ defense teams (in other words, material that tends to disprove the government’s case), or, in fact, any other material that is vital to mounting a proper defense. Moreover, when given the option to defend a judge’s right to order the release of prisoners against whom no case could be proved, the Justice Department sided with a notoriously pro-Bush judge in the Court of Appeals, who ruled that, although a District Court judge could demolish the government’s case against a Guantánamo prisoner, he or she was powerless to actually order the prisoner’s release.
Speaking for the first time since his release from Guantánamo after seven years’ imprisonment without charge or trial, following a successful habeas corpus appeal in January, Mohammed El-Gharani, now a free man in Chad, told Mohamed Vall of al-Jazeera, in an exclusive interview, how he felt about being imprisoned from the age of 14 to the age of 21. “Seven of the most beautiful years of youth were lost in prison,” he said. “I couldn’t learn or work. Seven years were just lost — for nothing.” Recounting the torture he experienced, which I reported last April in my article, “Guantánamo’s forgotten child: the sad story of Mohammed El-Gharani,” Mohammed also revealed, for the first time, that the interrogators in Guantánamo tried to force him to spy on his fellow prisoners. Continue reading →
Disturbing news from the legal action charity Reprieve, which reports that Mohammed El-Gharani, who was released from Guantánamo one week ago, “is still detained by the police in Chad — with no prospect of release.” Seized by Pakistani forces in a random raid on a mosque in Karachi and sold to US forces, El-Gharani was just 14 years old at the time, and was treated appallingly in Pakistani custody, and in US custody in Afghanistan and Guantánamo, before a judge finally ruled in January that the US government had failed to establish a case against him — having relied solely on information provided by unreliable witnesses in Guantánamo — and ordered his release.