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Asadullah Haroon Gul’s detention at Guantánamo ruled unlawful

A US federal court has granted Asadullah Haroon Gul’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Asadullah is the first Guantánamo Bay detainee in ten years to win habeas corpus proceedings, which are notoriously difficult for plaintiffs to win, as the Government must only satisfy the lowest standard of proof in US law and plaintiffs face limitations on obtaining disclosure or cross-examination.

Reprieve welcomes the court’s ruling that Asadullah’s detention is unlawful. Asadullah has been detained without charge or trial by the US since 2007. His family feared him dead for many years and for the first nine years of his captivity, he did not have access to a lawyer, despite multiple attempts to seek legal representation. The initial basis for his detention was his membership in Hezb-e-Islami (HIA), a group that has been formally at peace since 2016.

Last week, on 13 October 2021, the Periodic Review Board unanimously cleared Asadullah for release from Guantánamo, concluding that he does not pose a threat to the US. The Board is comprised of senior officials from six US agencies, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Departments of Defence, Homeland Security, Justice and State.  

Asadullah has suffered severe physical and psychological torture during his 14 year detention without charge or trial, including being beaten, hung by his wrists, deprived of food and water, and prevented from praying. He has been subjected to sleep deprivation, extreme cold temperatures and solitary confinement.

Asadullah’s greatest hope is to be released and reunited with his wife and 14-year-old daughter. He spends the few calls he is permitted to have helping his daughter with her homework and he hopes to someday see her become a doctor.

Asadullah Haroon’s lawyer at Reprieve US, Mark Maher, said:

“We are thrilled for Asad. A federal court has finally affirmed what Asad has known for so long: he should be home with his family, and his detention is unlawful. 

This is a landmark ruling. For 20 years, successive US administrations have asserted their right to imprison people indefinitely, without charge or trial. Guantánamo was built on the shakiest of legal foundations, and that has never been more clear than it is today.”

Asadullah Haroon’s lawyer at Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss, Tara Plochocki, said:

“This is a historic victory for the rule of law and a much-needed reminder to the US government that there are limits on what it may do in the name of national security.  I’m hopeful that Asadullah will soon be reunited with his family.” 

Asadullah Haroon’s brother, Roman Khan, said: 

“This is such happy, sweet news for our family. We now pray that Asadullah is sent back home quickly— where he belongs. The family has eyes only to see him again. We are all waiting for him. His wife, his young daughter Maryam, his parents, me, his nieces and nephews. He has spent more than 14 years of his life in this dangerous and terrible prison without charge. We are thankful to the judges and to everyone who continue to press for his freedom.”