Tag Archives: guantanamo

Imprisoned ‘Guantanamo Diary’ Author Granted Periodic Review Board Hearing

Imprisoned ‘Guantanamo Diary’ Author Granted Periodic Review Board Hearing

New York, NY — The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that a Periodic Review Board hearing has been scheduled for June 2 to review the detention of Guantánamo prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

Slahi’s deeply personal memoir, “Guantánamo Diary,” climbed to the top of The New York Times bestseller list last year and has been translated and published in more than 25 countries. The Mauritanian citizen has been imprisoned since 2002, but the U.S. government has never charged him with a crime.

An online petition demanding Slahi’s release has gathered nearly 50,000 signatures.

“Mohamedou Slahi will finally get the hearing that President Obama ordered five years ago and that Mohamedou has sought for years, including fighting for it in court,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project.“More than anything, Mohamedou wants to show the board that he poses no threat to the United States and should be allowed to return home to his family where he belongs.”

The PRBs, as they are known, assess whether a Guantanamo prisoner’s ongoing detention is justified or not, based on whether he presents a significant security threat to the United States. They include officials from the military and intelligence communities, as well as the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State. President Obama created the process in 2011 and ordered it completed within a year, but it took two years for the first hearing. Since then, the boards have cleared for release 19 out of the 22 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.

“After being detained for 14 years without charge, Mohamedou has in many ways become the poster child of the US government’s program of indefinite detention.,said Nancy Hollander, one of Slahi’s attorneys. “Despite the conditions of his detention, Mohamedou’s spirit and kind nature has shone light into some of the darkest corners of Guantánamo’s detention camp and his book has helped people all over the world see the deeply human side of what has come to seem like an unending cycle of conflict and injustice.”

PRBs are different from, and do not substitute for, habeas review in federal court, which determines whether detention is lawful. In 2010, the federal district court judge in Slahi’s habeas case ordered him released, but the Obama administration successfully appealed. The case was sent back to the district court where it is now awaiting further action.

Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, refused to prosecute Mohamedou after determining that the U.S. military extracted statements from him by torture. And the former chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions, Col. Morris Davis, has said that he was unable to find any evidence that Slahi had engaged in any acts of hostility against the United States.

Slahi was born in Mauritania in 1970 and won a scholarship to attend college in Germany. In the early 1990s, Slahi fought with the mujahidin in Afghanistan when they were part of the Afghan anti-communist resistance that included al-Qaeda and were supported by the U.S. The federal judge who reviewed all the evidence in his case noted that the group then was very different from the one that later came into existence. He worked in Germany for several years as an engineer and returned to Mauritania in 2000. The following year, at the behest of the U.S., he was detained by Mauritanian authorities and rendered to a prison in Jordan. Later he was rendered again, first to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and finally, in August 2002, to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo, where he was subjected to severe torture.

Slahi was one of two so-called “Special Projects” whose treatment then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally approved. The abuse included beatings, extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, sexual molestation, frigid rooms, shackling in stress positions, and death threats. He was also told that his mother was being arrested and brought to Guantanamo.

Slahi’s book, Guantánamo Diary, the first and only memoir by a still-imprisoned Guantánamo detainee, was published from a 466-page handwritten manuscript. In January 2015, after a years-long battle with government censors, the book was released with over 2,500 government redactions.

Book excerpts and video and audio content can be found at: http://www.Guantánamodiary.com 

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/feature/free-mohamedou-slahi

In Search of Prisoner 650, The Story of Aafia Siddiqui: A Free Film Screening & Press Conference at NYC’s Diversity Plaza

In Search of Prisoner 650, The Story of Aafia Siddiqui: A Free Film Screening & Press Conference at NYC’s Diversity Plaza

[NEW YORK, NY]  As the United Nations convenes for its annual general meeting in New York this September, the timing coincides with the anniversary of the 86-year-long prison sentence handed to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui by Richard Berman on September 23, 2010.  A ruling viewed by many international activists as a black eye for the UN’s Human Rights Charter.

This year, to mark the 3rd anniversary of Siddiqui’s sentencing, civic and human rights groups are staging a press conference and free screening of the documentary portrait of Siddiqui, ‘Prisoner 650’ by Yvonne Ridley (details posted below).  Taking place this evening, Monday September 23, from 7:30-10pm the screening & presser hopes to reveal illuminating new evidence in the same city where the UN meets to champion Human Rights and where Aafia was prosecuted.

For more than a year, International Justice Network has urged the Government of Pakistan to demand the return of this “daughter of the nation” to her family in Pakistan. Now, more than ever, her fate rests in the Pakistani Government’s hands.  The IJN’s report, Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts, reveals new evidence contradicting official statements from the governments of both Pakistan and the United States that Dr. Siddiqui was not detained in their custody prior to her arrest in Ghazni, Afghanistan in July of 2008. IJN has obtained a secret audio recording of a senior Pakistani official who admits he was personally involved in the arrest of Dr. Siddiqui and her children in 2003. This account is corroborated by substantial documentary evidence and witness testimony, which all points to the same conclusion—that Dr. Siddiqui and her three children were initially arrested in March 2003 with the knowledge and cooperation of local authorities in Karachi, Pakistan, and subsequently interrogated by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) as well as U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Regardless of whether any of the allegations against Dr. Siddiqui are true, or whether other grounds for her repatriation may exist, her return to Pakistan should be expedited by both goernments on humanitarian grounds. Her mental and physical health has severely declined, and continues to deteriorate every day that she remains imprisoned. IJN urges both governments to take immediate action to bring Dr. Aafia Siddiqui home.

More broadly, there can be little doubt that Dr. Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan from the United States would do a great deal to repair some of the damage done to the diplomatic relationship between the two nations. Until then, the International Justice Network will continue to expose the truth and seek justice for Dr. Siddiqui and the thousands of other prisoners who have been imprisoned as part of the U.S. government’s “global war on terror.”


Sara Flounders,  International Action Network
Mauri Saalakhan,  Peace thru Justice Foundation
Steve Downs,  National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms
Fahd Ahmed,  Desis Rising Up and Moving

Monday September 23, 2013, 7:30-10pm
WHERE: Diversity Plaza, Jackson Heights, Queens NY
FOR MORE INFO: Contact justicebythepen@gmail.com

Beyond Guantanamo: Draconian Federal Prison Programs Make Front Page of New York Times

Beyond Guantanamo: Draconian Federal Prison Programs Make Front Page of New York Times

“The new Guantanamo” is what New York Times – Washington Bureau Chief, Scott Shane, calls “an archipelago of federal prisons that stretches across the country, hidden away on back roads.”  From the ADX Florence, CO, to the “Communication Management Units,” facilities in Marion, IL, and Terre Haute, ID, to the “ADMAX Unit” at FMC Carswell, TX, (although the FBOP denies is a female CMU), all are political prison programs with glaring racial and ethnic disparity, and have an un-ignorable demographic of inmates who have politically charged cases.

The United States prides itself as a country that has no political prisoners.  Perhaps the inception of camp X-Ray at Guantanamo was an attempt to semantically side-step that argument.  The US, however, can no longer avoid that argument since it instituted the CMU programs within the US federal prison system.  In an effort to “manage communications” of men and women perceived as “terrorists” the CMUs and the ADMAX Unit at FMC Carswell, TX effectively strip its wards of their voices, by denying them access to the press, by vetting their correspondence, by denying or severely limiting access to phone calls, and by putting an end to contact visitation with their families.    Each case designated to these programs deserves a voice, deserves renewed access to due process, and privileged communications with their legal counsel.  Sparrow will continue to press for transparency and to hold those who have bypassed dude process rights accountable.

Read Scott Shane’s entire feature in The New York Times