Today, three stories from Guantánamo – the heartwarming, the agonizing, and the vacuous.
First, rare good news on Guantánamo. A case we’ve worked hard on and one that many Reprieve supporters will know well – Younous Chekkouri.
Younous was told “you’re going to hell” by the American guards as they forced him on to a plane to Guantánamo. He quickly learned what they meant.
But now, two years after his eventual release to Morocco, Younous (pictured below with his Moroccan lawyer) has been officially acquitted of all charges. He is now genuinely free to get on with his life for the first time.
This good news came at a critical juncture for the detainees still held at Guantánamo – last Friday the Trump administration had to respond to the most significant legal challenge to indefinite detention in over a decade: a challenge brought by Reprieve and our colleagues at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Trump’s answer was as illogical as it was vacuous. His administration claimed that detention at Guantánamo is not indefinite, it’s just “indeterminate”, and that the system for clearing detainees for release is working fine.
That was news to Abdul Latif Nasser, who was cleared for release in December 2016, and was almost on the plane, agonizingly close to freedom. But he was told he had no legal right to be released, because the decision was merely “advisory”.
Back in his cell, where he has been held for more than 14 years, the distinction between indefinite and indeterminate detention makes little difference. He’s still a free man in a cage.
Our fight to close Guantánamo continues and is even harder in the Trump era. But heartwarming news like Younous’s freedom reminds us that justice is possible if we keep going.
To everyone who supported Younous when we represented him in Guantánamo and assisted him in the years since, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Younous is now free to spend his life with his family.