At a Glance
In December 2009, Mohammed Sulaymon Barre was released from Guantánamo. An appeal of his habeas case was settled in November 2012, in exchange for written confirmation that the U.S. government does not consider him a terrorist. His Detainee Treatment Act petition was dismissed, without prejudice, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush.
- J. Wells Dixon
- Shayana Kadidal
Mohammed Sulaymon Barre is a Somali citizen who fled Somalia during the civil war in the early 1990s. UNHCR granted him refugee status in Pakistan, where he lived and worked freely for years. In Pakistan, he worked for a large international money transfer company called Dahabshiil. He was kidnapped by Pakistani authorities soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and later imprisoned in Guantánamo for nearly eight years.
In the middle of the night, on November 1, 2001, the Pakistani authorities raided Mr. Barre’s home, where he lived with his wife, and arrested him. The Pakistani authorities told Mr. Barre that he was merely being investigated because his work phone number appeared on a list of calls made by members of a suspect charitable organization, Al Wafaa, and he would be released in the morning. Instead, Pakistani officials kept Mr. Barre in their custody for four months, then turned him over to U.S. forces. Mr. Barre is believed to have been sold for a bounty to the United States at a time when the United States was offering thousands of dollars for the handover of suspected enemies. The extensive use of bounties was confirmed by then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, when he admitted in his autobiography that he received bounties in exchange for the transfer of many men to U.S. custody. Once in the custody of U.S. forces, Mr. Barre was sent to the U.S. military base at Bagram, where he was abused and coercively interrogated before being transferred to Guantánamo.
On August 1, 2007, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit under the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) on behalf of Mr. Barre. At that time, Congress had passed legislation which prevented Guantánamo detainees from challenging their detention in the District Court through habeas corpus and offered only very limited review of their detention though an appeal of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal’s (CSRT’s) decision regarding their “enemy combatant” designation under the DTA. The petition challenged Mr. Barre’s designation as an enemy combatant and demanded that the U.S. government provide access to critical information and allow CCR attorneys to visit their client.
Mr. Barre’s case represented the intersection of many key issues surrounding the fate of the Guantánamo detainees: faulty hearing processes, detention based on or because of their citizenship, and the complicated path their cases must follow through the courts. The case is part of CCR’s broader efforts to end indefinite detention without charge or trial, close Guantánamo, and ensure accountability for U.S. torture.
On June 11, 2008, the Supreme Court issued an historic decision in the case of Boumediene v. Bush, affirming the constitutionally-protected right of non-citizens detained in Guantánamo Bay to challenge their detention through habeas corpus. Less than two weeks later, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a habeas petition on behalf of Mr. Barre, challenging his unlawful detention without trial in Guantánamo since 2002.
Despite being granted international mandate refugee protection from UNHCR, Mr. Barre languished in Guantánamo Bay for nearly eight years. He was the final remaining refugee in Guantánamo officially recognized by UNHCR. On December 20, 2009, Mr. Barre was finally released from Guantánamo and reunited with his family in Somaliland, the self-declared independent republic that is stable in an otherwise volatile Somalia. He was never charged with a crime.