December 20, 2014, New York – In response to the repatriation announced today of four Afghan prisoners, including Shawali Khan, whose case the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has long worked on with lead counsel Leonard C. Goodman and co-counsel Kent Spriggs, CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy issued the following statement:
We welcome Shawali Khan’s transfer. Shawali was sent to Guantanamo on the flimsiest of allegations that were implausible on their face and never properly investigated, and held for 11 years without charge. We hope that soon he will be reunited with his loved ones.As hostilities in Afghanistan come to a close with President Obama’s announcement that the last combat troops will leave by the end of the year, the conflict in which most of the men imprisoned at Guantánamo were captured and held for more than a decade without charge or trial is also ending. The Afghanistan conflict has been the longest in U.S. history, and under U.S. and international law, including the laws of war, the remaining detainees must be released without delay.Any ostensible justification for detaining our clients and other Guantánamo prisoners will unravel as U.S. combat troops leave Afghanistan. Any detention authority under which these men were captured will end—if, in fact, it ever properly existed. Continuing to hold prisoners at Guantánamo under the guise of an endless, worldwide “war on terror” would be both unlawful and, itself, terrifying. Endless war is anti-democratic and fundamentally inconsistent with basic liberty.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for nearly 13 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.