Younous was doing charity work in Afghanistan and starting a business when he was rounded up with other Arabs and taken to a prison in Kandahar.
He was sold to U.S. forces for a bounty and then taken to Guantánamo Bay. He was held without charge for 14 years before finally being released to his native Morocco in September 2015. But his ordeal didn’t end there. He was held for almost 5 months in a Moroccan jail, but he was finally freed on February 12, 2016.
Reprieve has represented Younous during his detention in Guantánamo and we continued to fight for his freedom in Morocco.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me through these hard times, my lawyers, everyone in the United States and Europe and Morocco who has stood by me and been my friend the whole time. I cannot believe I am free and will see my family soon. I am so happy. Thank you.
– Younous Chekkouri
Younous was born in Morocco, but moved to Pakistan when he was 22 years old with his siblings where further education was more affordable. After a series of family tragedies, he struggled financially to stay in Pakistan and tried to find work and cheaper studies in Yemen and Syria.
A strong believer in giving back to society, he moved to Afghanistan in June 2001 where he did charity work and started a business. He fled the instability post 9/11, but was rounded up and sold to U.S. forces.
In 2002 Younous was taken to Guantánamo. After Reprieve took up his case, six U.S. federal agencies – including the Departments of State and Defense as well as the CIA and FBI – unanimously agreed to clear him for release in 2010. He has never faced a trial or been charged with a crime. His petition for habeas corpus was litigated through to a hearing, and saw the U.S. government drop almost every allegation it had originally made against Younous.
In 2013, he joined a mass hunger strike in protest at his continued imprisonment. He described the heavy-handed response of the guards:
After our peaceful demonstration, on Saturday morning the guards came in with guns…they used shot guns and three people were injured.
It has been a years-long struggle to get Younous out to his family, but his new life starts today. He is one of the kindest, gentlest souls I had the privilege to represent in my years going to Guantánamo, and I am so pleased he will spend tonight with his family. Reprieve looks forward to his being reunited with his beloved wife and Morocco closing this case, as the United States did long ago.
– Cori Crider, Reprieve attorney for Younous