Guantánamo prisoner released to Morocco

Moroccan-born Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri, who spent 13 years in the Guantánamo Bay prison, was released Sept. 17 as part of the Obama administration's effort to wind down and eventually close the detention center. The US never formally charged Chekkouri with a crime, but according to military documents he was believed to have been an associate of Osama bin Laden and to have run al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Chekkouri was cleared for release by the Guantanamo Review Task Force (PDF) in January 2010. Rights group Reprieve after his release reported that he was still being held by local authorities in his native Morocco. The prisoner release is the first since June, when six Guantanamo detainees were transferred  to Oman. The prison's population is now reduced to to 115.

The Guantánamo Bay prison was set up in 2002 by the Bush administration as a facility to hold the most dangerous terrorism suspects. At its peak in 2003, the prison had a population of 684 inmates. When Obama took office in 2008, one of his first directives was to close the facility, but he has faced considerable opposition in achieving that goal. On July 1, US Secretary of State John Kerry appointed Lee Wolowsky to effectuate the closure of the Guantánamo prison. In August, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama is considering a "wide array" of options for closing the prison.

From Jurist, Sept. 18. Used with permission.

  1. Morocco violates assurances for ex-Gitmo detainee: lawyer

    A lawyer for former Guantánamo detainee Younous Chekkouri said Oct. 1 that the Moroccan government is not upholding the diplomatic assurances it provided to the US State Department regarding the release of his client, namely that it would not prosecute Chekkouri and would release him within 72 hours. Chekkouri was released to Morocco in September after 13 years in the Guantánamo Bay prison. Cori Crider, an international human rights lawyer with Reprieve advocacy group, provided an update upon his client's arrival in Morocco and said Chekkouri was, "facing utterly baseless charges of "attempts to disrupt the security of the country." Chekkouri has been placed in "provisional detention" in Salé while he awaits a judge's decision on the charges. (Jurist, Oct. 2)