Finally Home from GTMO

Good news: the US Department of Defense announced yesterday that Mohammed al-Odaini has been transferred home to Yemen. He had been held at Guantanamo without charge for over eight years–since 2002, from age 18-26–despite the fact that he had been cleared for release in 2005.

On May 26, 2010, a US federal judge ordered the Obama administration to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps” to arrange the release of Mohammed al-Odaini. The US administration had until June 25, 2010 to respond.

Over that month, Amnesty International members emailed, wrote and called President Obama, Attorney General Holder and Secretary of State Clinton, urging them to comply with the judge’s order and release Mohammed al-Odaini. They did.

For years, Amnesty International members have taken action on Mohammed al-Odaini’s case, calling for him–and all other Guantanamo detainees–to either be charged with a crime and fairly tried, or be released.

Amnesty International USA Local Group 50 in Chicago, Local Group 139 in Wisconsin and Local Group 708 in Massachusetts adopted Mohammed al-Odaini’s case, and this past yearmore than 12,000 of you joined the Global Write-a-thon to write letters on behalf of Mohammed al-Odaini and other individuals at risk of severe human rights violations.

Many thanks to all of you who have campaigned on his behalf over the years.  Mohammed’s lawyer sent this message:

“Mr al-Odaini’s release is cause for celebration. After Judge Kennedy ruled in his favor, it was by no means clear that the government would release him, when the government would release him, or where the government would send him. We had an uphill fight. But with Amnesty International’s support–and your support–we persuaded the government to return Mr. al-Odaini to Yemen and reunite him with his family. Only the kind of broad public support Amnesty brings to bear could ensure such a happy ending. I cannot thank you enough.”

Mohammed al-Odaini’s case is far from being the exception. Approximately 50% of those who remain detained at Guantanamo are Yemeni nationals.


Write-a-thon Series: Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini

This posting is part of our Write-a-Thon Cases Series. For more information visit

Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini © Private

Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini © Private

Despite having been cleared for release more than four years ago, twenty-six-year-old Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini remains detained in Guántanamo. Odaini was sent to the detention center at the U.S Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba in March 2002 along with fourteen other Yemeni nationals, all of whom were turned over by Pakistani police. In June 2005, U.S. authorities declared Odani suitable for release from Guantánamo. Yemeni authorities are prepared to take him back, however he continues to be detained without reason. He has not been interrogated for nearly two years and the reason for his continued detention is unclear.

Participate in this year’s Amnesty International annual Global Write-a-thon and help free Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini by writing a letter on his behalf to the Commander of the Joint Task Force Guantánamo. Be one of the thousands of individuals asking why Odaini and fellow detainees remain detained despite being cleared for release. By putting pressure on the Commander now, we hope to help release Odaini and fellow Yemenis and enable them to go back to Yemen. Writing a letter could not only help Mr. Odaini but the other detainees currently being unlawfully held in Guantánamo.

By Morgan Brescia, AIUSA Campaign for Individuals at Risk

You're Free to Go Now…Just Kidding!

Can someone please explain this to me? How is it OK to arrest someone, send them to Guantánamo, keep them there a couple years, clear them for release, and then not let them leave? Among all the things that confuse and upset me about the way the US government has dealt with the detainees at Guantánamo, the situation of Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini is one of the most baffling.

Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini  © Private

Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini © Private

A Yemeni national, he was arrested in 2002 in Pakistan, where he had gone to study Islamic law. In 2005, US authorities declared him suitable for release, and Yemeni authorities indicated that they were willing to take him back. But now it’s almost 2009, and Odaini is still stuck in Guantánamo. This situation does not appear to be complicated. Unlike some other Guantánamo detainees, it’s not as if Odaini would be at risk of torture if he returned to Yemen, and it’s clear that he’d be welcomed there. What’s the holdup??

Odaini’s lawyer says “For all he knows, he could be there for the rest of his life.” I really hope this isn’t true, and that Odaini is not feeling totally hopeless.