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.