GOOD NEWS on June 26! Odaini Going Home from GTMO

We have great news to share today on June 26, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture:

Mohammed al-Odaini will be released from Guantanamo back to his home country of Yemen. He has been held without charge by the US government for over 8 years, since the age of 18. He was cleared for release in 2005.  Check out this Washington Post story for more info.

For years, Amnesty International members have taken action for Mohammed–writing countless letters and emails, holding vigils and demonstrations, organizing film screenings, meeting with elected officials and gathering petition signatures.

THANK YOU for taking action.

From Mohammed’s lawyer, David Remes:

“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.”

From Matthew Alexander, former senior US military interrogator:

“I want to personally thank you for your help in securing the freedom of Mohammed Odaini. Your actions help keep America safe by ensuring that we live up to our principles — a critical part of long term strategy to counter violent extremists.  We can take pride in Mr Odaini’s release, but while we pause to appreciate this accomplishment, let’s not forget that justice still escapes others.”

Amnesty International’s Counter Terror With Justice Campaign will of course continue to call on President Obama and Congress to:

  • Provide Mohammed al-Odaini with access to effective redress and remedy for his time held in US custody.
  • Immediately release anyone held in Guantanamo who is not to be charged and tried in accordance with international law.
  • Ensure accountability for US torture and other human rights violations, as required by law.

Please know that your actions DO make a difference in the lives of individual people.

Cleared for Release for Years But Still Detained

Mohammed Mohammed Hassan al-Odaini is a 24-year-old Yemeni national held in Guantanamo for more than 8 years, despite the fact that he was cleared for release over 4 years ago.

In 2002, when he was studying Islamic law at Salafi University in Faisalabad, Pakistan, the police raided a house where he was dining with other Yemeni nationals. Due to their presumed links to al-Qaeda, they were all handed to U.S. authorities, and days later transferred to Guantanamo. In 2005, al-Odaini was cleared for release from the detention facility, and furthermore, in May 2010, a U.S. federal judge ordered the administration to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps” to arrange his discharge.

There are almost 30 other Yemenis held in Guantanamo without charge or trial, even though they were cleared for release by an interagency task force created by President Obama.

However, their situation is hopefully about to change. According to The Washington Post, “[t]he Obama administration is considering partially lifting its suspension of all transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen”, due to the national and international pressure on al-Odaini’s case.

The U.S. might permit the transfer to their home country of Yemeni detainees–including al-Odaini—that were already cleared for release. Those transfers were suspended by President Obama in January 2010 after the thwarted Christmas Day bombing by a Nigerian national that had been in Yemen.

In the meantime, Amnesty International is still deeply concerned that al-Odani and other Yemeni nationals remain illegally detained in Guantanamo after years of delay. Join us in urging President Obama, Attorney General and Secretary of State Clinton to release Mohammed al-Odaini immediately.