Attorneys: Obama must follow through promptly with release
August 11, 2016, Arlington, VA – Today, a Periodic Review Board (PRB) made public its decision to clear Guantánamo detainee Sufyian Barhoumi for release. Mr. Barhoumi has been held at Guantánamo since 2002. He is reportedly one of the best-liked men – among both fellow prisoners and guards – detained at Guantánamo. A package of supporting documents submitted to the PRB included a letter in support of his release from a former guard at the prison camp—the first submission of its kind in the 40 hearings held as of the date it was submitted.
“This is a crucial step towards Mr. Barhoumi’s release, but for the PRB recommendation to mean anything it must actually result in his prompt transfer,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Managing Attorney Shayana Kadidal. “President Obama has just over five months to empty the prison. His legacy depends on swift action.”
Mr. Barhoumi is 43 years old and was born and raised in Algiers, where his mother still lives and his late father practiced law. The Obama administration has repatriated several men detained at Guantánamo to Algieria As a young man, Mr. Barhoumi lived in various countries in Europe, including Spain, France, and England. He speaks English as well as French and Arabic and is an avid soccer player and fan.
Mr. Barhoumi has been charged by military commission three times, but each time the charges have been dropped. In 2012, he offered publicly to plead guilty to anything the government was willing to charge him with in order to get a definite date when his mother could see him again. The response was that there was nothing the government was willing to charge him with.
In 2011, the Obama administration established the PRB process to review the status of men not already approved for transfer. It is a non-legal process, akin to a parole board, designed to determine, by unanimous consensus of the six agencies involved (the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State; the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence), whether detention is necessary to protect against a continuing “significant threat” to the security of the United States.
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.