Reprieve welcomes the release of its client Abdul Latif Nasser, who has been returned to his home country of Morocco after being held for nearly two decades without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay.
Five years ago, in July 2016, he was cleared for release by unanimous decision of six US federal agencies, namely the departments of State, Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, plus the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the office of the Director of National Intelligence. Despite this decision, he was held for a further five years during Trump’s presidency, which marked a radical change in the US government’s position on the release of Guantánamo detainees.
The US rendered Abdul Latif to Guantánamo in May 2002, and in his 19 years at the prison he suffered myriad forms of torture and abuse. In his early years, Abdul Latif was held in solitary confinement, with the lights on 24 hours a day and loud music blared into his cell. He was unrepresented until 2007. Abdul Latif twice went on hunger strike twice to peacefully protest the conditions of his detention.
While still detained at Guantánamo, Abdul Latif described to Reprieve what returning to Morocco meant to him, “It’s been 25 years since I smelled Morocco. Things like the smell of mint. Or the sea. I have been here so long, able to hear and smell the ocean from my cell, but never able to set foot in it.”
Katie Taylor, Deputy Director of Reprieve, said:
“Almost exactly five years ago, Abdul Latif was unanimously cleared for transfer home to Morocco by US security agencies, but remained trapped at Guantánamo Bay, at the whim of President Trump, who explicitly endorsed indefinite detention without trial.
“This transfer cannot make up for the two decades of his life that Abdul Latif has lost, held prisoner without charge, but we welcome his return to Moroccan soil at long last. Other transfers of prisoners cleared for release must follow without delay.”
Mustafa Nasser, Abdul Latif’s brother, said:
“We have waited nearly 20 years so long for this moment and finally our prayers have been answered. To know that my brother has returned to Morocco fills me with happiness I cannot even describe. The last five years, since he was cleared for transfer but kept in Guantánamo by President Trump, have been the hardest of all.
“In two days time the family will gather to celebrate Eid-al-Adha. It is my greatest wish that my brother Abdul Latif will be free to join us.”