Ba Odah v. Obama Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

October 1, 2006

Current Status 

On April 16, 2016, Ba Odah was released to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Client(s) 

Case Description 

Ba Odah v. Obama was a habeas corpus petition on behalf of Tariq Ba Odah, a Yemeni man who was detained at Guantánamo without charge from 2002-2016. The Obama administration cleared him for release in 2009, but, like other cleared Yemenis at the prison, he remained arbitrarily detained solely because of his citizenship. He spent one-third of his life in Guantánamo.

Not long after he arrived in Guantánamo, Ba Odah began his hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention without charge. He reports that through the years the crackdown from the Guantánamo prison administration was so brutal that he was unable to maintain his peaceful strike. Periodically he would be forced to give it up before resuming it again. In 2007, however, he resolved to begin what became one of the longest running hunger strikes at Guantánamo.

As a result of his peaceful hunger strike, Ba Odah was force-fed daily, a practice widely condemned as torture. Twice a day, guards strapped him to a restraint chair, forced a rubber tube down his nose, and pumped a liquid dietary supplement into his stomach. Guantánamo prison authorities also kept him in solitary confinement because they viewed his strike as “non-compliance.” He was only permitted to be outside of his cell for 2-4 hours per day. Unfortunately, he was often too weak to walk out of his cell and take advantage of this time. He had very little human contact. At one point Ba Odah weighed 160 pounds; his strike caused his weight to drop as low as 75 pounds. For Tariq, protesting by hunger striking was the only way to communicate to those of us who have our freedom what it means to be unjustly detained, to be put in a cell for over a decade without charge.

“A captive does not possess any realistic means to send his messages to the world other than to strike. . . Freedom should be much more precious for the human being than all the desires on earth. And we should never give it up regardless of how expensive the price may be.”  Tariq Ba Odah, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, April 2013

Ba Odah was released to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016, and looks forward to rebuilding his life as a free man.

Case Timeline

April 19, 2016
Court issues minute order dismissing his habeas case as moot
April 19, 2016
Court issues minute order dismissing his habeas case as moot
After nearly ten months without ruling on Ba Odah's motion for judgment, the court issues minute order dismissing his habeas case as moot in light of his transfer.
April 16, 2016
Tariq Ba Odah released to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
April 16, 2016
Tariq Ba Odah released to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
After nine years on hunger strike and more than five years being cleared for transfer, Mr. Ba Odah is released to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
September 11, 2015
CCR files a reply in support of Ba Odah's motion for release
August 14, 2015
Government opposes Ba Odah’s motion for judgment
August 14, 2015
Government opposes Ba Odah’s motion for judgment
After requesting three extensions to file its response, the government opposes Ba Odah’s motion requesting that the court grants his habeas petition. The opposition and exhibits are filed under seal, and public version are filed on August 24, 2015.
June 25, 2015

CCR moves for a court order granting Ba Odah's habeas petition and compelling the government to facilitate his immediate release

June 25, 2015

CCR moves for a court order granting Ba Odah's habeas petition and compelling the government to facilitate his immediate release

Three medical experts submit declarations in support of the motion, asserting that Ba Odah is severely malnourished, and because of his unstable condition he is in urgent need of adequate medical care.
March 3, 2014
Court grants Ba Odah's motion to dismiss his habeas petition
March 3, 2014
Court grants Ba Odah's motion to dismiss his habeas petition
November 28, 2014
CCR's report to U.N. Human Rights Commission regarding U.S. compliance under Convention Against Torture raises Ba Obah's case
November 28, 2014
CCR's report to U.N. Human Rights Commission regarding U.S. compliance under Convention Against Torture raises Ba Obah's case
The report includes first-person testimony from Ba Odah regarding his ongoing unlawful detention without charge.
April 11, 2014
CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy highlights force-feeding torture of Ba Odah in presentation to American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C.
April 11, 2014
CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy highlights force-feeding torture of Ba Odah in presentation to American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C.
The presentation, entitled "Is Force Feeding Torture?" includes first-hand accounts of Ba Odah's force feeding.
January 31, 2014
CCR files third status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
January 31, 2014
CCR files third status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
The status report notes that, in response to the court's request to either proceed or withdraw his habeas petition, Ba Odah has elected to withdraw the petition.
December 2013
Defense Department institutes media blackout on reporting on Guantanamo hunger strikes
December 2013
Defense Department institutes media blackout on reporting on Guantanamo hunger strikes
The blackout hampers reporting on the status of Ba Odah's ongoing hunger strike.
July 2013
CCR files second status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
July 2013
CCR files second status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
The status report highlights the need for a continued stay, in light of unsealing of Ba Odah's clearance and Obama's lifting of his moratorium on transfers to Yemen.