EDITOR’S NOTE: Mohamedou Slahi's brother, Yahdih, was scheduled to speak about his case in the United States early this week, but was detained at the airport and sent back to Germany. Although he was denied the ability to speak to Americans about his brother’s case in person, he will be participating remotely at an event in New York City today, May 24th. You can RSVP for that event here and click here to to demand that Mohamedou Slahi be released.
What’s going on?
The author of Guantánamo Diary, the only written first-person account from an imprisoned Guantánamo detainee, may soon have a chance at freedom.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been detained without charge in Guantánamo Bay prison since 2002. There he was subjected to a torture regime personally approved by then–Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The abuse included beatings, extreme isolation, sexual molestation, mock executions, and threats against his mother.
The United States has never charged Slahi with a crime and Slahi maintains his innocence. One former chief military prosecutor, Col. Morris Davis, said that he could not find any crime with which to charge him. Another prosecutor at Guantánamo, Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, refused to prosecute Slahi because his statements had been extracted by torture. And a United States federal judge ordered his release in 2010, rejecting the government’s arguments for holding him indefinitely without charge or trial.
The government appealed the decision, and Slahi remains one of the 80 detainees still left in the prison that President Obama has promised to close since he first campaigned for president.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is a part of Slahi’s legal team, said of his case: “Mohamedou should never have been locked up in the first place. The fact that the United States has for so long been holding him and other men like him who pose no threat to the US is a travesty that needs to end immediately.”
Guantánamo Diary came out of Slahi’s handwritten account, and was released after years of litigation and more than 2,500 government redactions. It climbed to the top of the best-seller list and attracted the attention of celebrities and human-rights activists across the globe.
On June 2, Slahi will have a chance to show that he must be freed. That is when he will finally be granted the “Periodic Review Board” hearing that President Obama ordered four years ago, during which officials from the United States government will assess whether he poses a threat to the United States or whether he can be released.
What can I do?
When Slahi’s memoir was released, The Nation’s Jon Wiener interviewed his attorney Nancy Hollander and editor Larry Siems. For even more information about Slahi, check out the ACLU’s page on his case and watch the video featuring his brother Yahdih’s plea for his freedom.