Gitmo detainee to be repatriated to Yemen after judge orders release

A federal judge on June 26 ordered the release of Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohammed Odaini, who will now be transferred to his homeland of Yemen, despite the Obama administration‘s ban on repatriation to the Arab nation. In January, the administration suspended all transfers of Guantánamo detainees to Yemen citing security concerns. Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the US government has illegally detained Odaini for the past eights years and ordered his release, forcing the administration to make an exception to the ban.

Kennedy held that the government had failed to show a preponderance of evidence linking Odaini to al-Qaeda:

Respondents have kept a young man from Yemen in detention in Cuba from age eighteen to age twenty-six. They have prevented him from seeing his family and denied him the opportunity to complete his studies and embark on a career. The evidence before the Court shows that holding Odaini in custody at such great cost to him has done nothing to make the United States more secure. There is no evidence that Odaini has any connection to Al Qaeda. Consequently, his detention is not authorized by the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force]. The Court therefore emphatically concludes that Odaini’s motion must be granted.

Odaini was a student at a religious institution in Faisalabad, Pakistan, before he was detained in 2002. He had been visiting a nearby guesthouse for the first time when it was raided by US forces. The Obama administration has confirmed that ban on transfers to Yemen is still in place and the repatriation of Odaini should not be seen as a representation of the administration’s broader policy on Yemeni detainees.

From Jurist, June 27. Used with permission.

  1. What a travesty.
    This kid was supposed to be scheduled for “transfer” back in 2004 because they had absolutely no reason to think he was a member of Al Qaeda. I don’t know why he wasn’t released then. He was then approved for “transfer” in 2007. Again, I don’t know why he wasn’t released then. He was approved for transfer again in 2008. Still don’t know what happened. When he applied for habeas corpus, the Obama DoJ fought tooth and nail to keep him in prison, saying he was a dangerous member of Al Qaeda because he was visiting a house which had supposedly been visited by Abu Zubaydah. How can people like that live with themselves? The DoJ attorneys KNEW the kid was innocent, and still lied to try to keep him in prison. We have known for at least three years now that Abu Zubaydah was never a member of Al Qaeda. Indeed, the CIA and DOD have known that since 2003 after they water boarded him 83 times in one month.

    And the reason they don’t want to release any of these guys to Yemen? Guys who have been determined to NOT EVER have been a threat to the U.S.? Because Yemen can’t be trusted to keep track of these guys and “prevent them from returning to the battlefield.” Insanity!