Hearing Held Today Could Clear Path to Release of ‘Guantánamo Diary’ Author

Former U.S. Military Guard Submits Letter of Support for Mohamedou Slahi

June 2, 2016 9:15 pm

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Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — After 14 years of detention, Mohamedou Ould Slahi today received a Periodic Review Board hearing that could result in his release.

The PRB process was established by President Obama in 2011 to assess whether Guantánamo detainees pose a “significant security threat” or whether they can be transferred. Slahi’s military-assigned personal representative and his counsel submitted materials showing he poses no threat, including a deeply personal letter of support from a former U.S. military guard who was assigned to Slahi for 10 months.

“Based on my interactions with Slahi while in Guantánamo, I would be pleased to welcome him into my home. I would like the opportunity to eventually see him again,” said the former Guantánamo guard in his letter to the PRB.

Slahi, a Mauritanian citizen and author of the best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary,” has also received an outpouring of support from around the world:

  • The American Civil Liberties Union and Change.org have collected over 88,000 signatures on petitions to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter calling for Slahi’s release. The petitions have been championed by luminaries including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Roger Waters.
  • Nearly 90 professors and teachers from a variety of disciplines, many of whom assigned Guantánamo Diary to their students, signed a letter to Carter urging Slahi’s freedom.
  • 15 members of the U.K. Parliament, led by MP Tom Brake, signed a letter urging the British government to call on the U.S. government to release Slahi.

Hina Shamsi, one of Slahi’s attorneys and director of the ACLU National Security Project, said, “More than anything, Mohamedou wants to show the board that he poses no threat to the United States and must be allowed to return home to his family where he belongs. The PRB has the ability to end an injustice that has lasted 14 long years.”

A selection of materials submitted to the Periodic Review Board on Slahi’s behalf are here:

Letter of Support From Slahi’s Former Guard at Guantánamo:


Letter of Support From Col. Morris Davis, Former Guantánamo Military Commissions Chief Prosecutor:


Letter of Support From Larry Siems, Editor of “Guantánamo Diary”:


Letter of Support From Nancy Hollander, Slahi’s Attorney:


Opening Statement of Theresa Duncan, Slahi’s Attorney:


Opening Statement of Slahi’s Military-Assigned Personal Representatives:




Mohamedou Ould Slahi was born in Mauritania in 1970 and won a scholarship to attend college in Germany. In the early 1990s, Slahi fought with al-Qaeda when it was part of the Afghan anti-communist resistance supported by the U.S. The A federal judge who reviewed all the evidence in his case noted that the group then was very different from the one that later came into existence. Slahi worked in Germany for several years as an engineer and returned to Mauritania in 2000. The following year, at the behest of the U.S., he was detained by Mauritanian authorities and rendered to a prison in Jordan. Later he was rendered again, first to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and finally, in August 2002, to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, where he was subjected to severe torture.

Slahi was one of two so-called “Special Projects” whose brutal treatment then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally approved. The abuse included beatings, extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, sexual molestation, frigid rooms, shackling in stress positions, and threats against both Slahi and his mother. In Slahi’s habeas challenge, a federal district court judge determined Slahi’s detention was unlawful and ordered him released in 2010. The U.S. government successfully appealed that decision and the habeas case is still pending.

Slahi’s book, “Guantánamo Diary,”the first and only memoir by a still-imprisoned Guantánamo detainee, was published from a 466-page handwritten manuscript. In January 2015, after a years-long battle with the government, the book was released in the United States. It spent several weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and has since been translated into multiple languages for publication in more than 25 countries.

Book excerpts and video and audio content can be found at: http://www.guantanamodiary.com

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