January 17, 2017, New York – Today, the Department of Defense announced the transfer of Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) client Ghaleb Al-Bihani from Guantanamo to Oman. Al-Bihani, a Yemeni, had been held without charge at Guantánamo since 2002. In May 2014, the government’s Periodic Review Board (PRB) approved him for transfer. Despite the board’s finding that his continued detention was unnecessary, he remained in Guantanamo for two and a half more years.
“Mr. Al-Bihani’s detention for 15 years was senseless, but he and we are relieved that his ordeal is finally over,” said Pardiss Kebriaei, his attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “After having lost a third of his life in Guantanamo, what he needs now is support for a real chance to rebuild. We are hopeful that he will have that opportunity in Oman.”
The government justified detaining Al-Bihani for years without charge based on his admission that he traveled to Afghanistan as a 21-year-old, before 9/11, and served as a kitchen aid to a group aligned with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance. The group surrendered shortly after the U.S. invasion and later disbanded. At his PRB hearing in 2014, Al-Bihani, who is now 36, submitted a lengthy statement about his hopes for the future – to start a family, pursue his education, and find a good job in a country removed from conflict. “I have these hopes because I want a stable life,” he wrote. “I want a happy life for my children. I want to give them a better life than I had.”
CCR represents several other men who remain detained in Guantanamo, including Sufyian Barhoumi, who was also cleared for transfer by the PRB, and whose release depends on urgent action by the Obama administration.
Learn more about CCR’s work on behalf of Mr. Al-Bihani here.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for 15 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country to give the men detained at Guantánamo the option of legal representation. CCR represents current and former detainees in multiple venues, including in their habeas cases in federal court, before the military commissions, before the Periodic Review Board, in cases seeking damages for wrongful detention and torture, and in cases seeking accountability in international courts under universal jurisdiction laws.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.