Guantánamo Review Board Approves “Forever Prisoner” Zahir Hamdoun for Transfer

January 19, New York – Today, the Periodic Review Board (PRB) announced its decision to approve Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) client Zahir Hamdoun for transfer from Guantánamo. Mr. Hamdoun, now 36, has been detained without charge since 2002, when he was 22 years old. Until the PRB’s decision, he had been included among the so-called “forever prisoners” slated for  indefinite detention, most of whom the government has no intention of charging but who are also not yet approved for transfer. He appeared before the board last month for a hearing to determine whether his detention remains necessary from a security standpoint. In clearing Mr. Hamdoun, the board, an inter-agency body including senior military and intelligence officials, noted Mr. Hamdoun’s “sustained record of compliance” at Guantanamo, his “credible desire to start a new life,” and “the ability and willingness of his family and others to support him” after transfer.

“The PRB’s decision means that senior government officials from a cross-section of the national security community have agreed that Mr. Hamdoun can be safely transferred out of Guantánamo. In contrast, those who continue to stoke fear about the releases of detainees approved for transfer are without fail people who have never sat across from a detainee nor reviewed all of the government’s information on him,” said CCR Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, Mr. Hamdoun’s counsel at the hearing. “Mr. Hamdoun has made clear that he is willing to be transferred anywhere, and that he has strong family and institutional support for his reintegration. The administration can and must act to make these the final weeks of Mr. Hamdoun’s painful 14-year imprisonment.”

There are currently 93 men detained at Guantánamo, 35 of whom are cleared for release. Most of the remaining population is comprised of uncharged detainees still waiting for review by the PRB. While President Obama established the PRB in 2011, ordering that all eligible detainees be reviewed within a year, the first hearing did not take place until November 2013, after a prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo earlier that year. Currently, there are 37 men who are PRB-eligible but have yet to begin the review process.

The PRB’s decision approving Mr. Hamdoun for transfer, along with statements presented by Mr. Hamdoun’s military representative and counsel at his hearing, can be found on the Periodic Review Secretariat’s website: More information about Mr. Hamdoun is available here.

Several other CCR clients who have been approved for transfer remain imprisoned at Guantánamo without clear end, including Ghaleb Nasser Al-Bihani, Mohammed Al-Hamiri, Tariq Ba Odah, Muhammadi Davliatov, and Mohammed Kamin.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for 14 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. CCR is responsible for many Guantánamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.

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


Last modified 

January 19, 2016