2 Guantanamo detainees cleared for release as prison marks 20 years
The Periodic Review Board, a government entity established during the Obama administration to determine whether detainees at the facility were guilty, announced the decisions in filings posted to its website.
The board announced the decision on Tuesday to clear for release detainee Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, a Kenyan who has been at the prison since 2007. Guled Hassan Duran, a Somali who has been at the prison since 2006, has also been cleared by the board, according to public filings and his attorney Shane Kadidal. Kadidal told Fintech Zoom he had found out about the board’s decision regarding his client on Monday.
With these two decisions, 15 detainees have now been cleared for transfer by the Periodic Review Board and are eligible for release, pending diplomatic arrangements. Once a detainee is cleared for release, he cannot leave the prison until the US government works out a diplomatic arrangement with another country for them to be released to.
Thirty-nine detainees remain at the prison, according to Kirby. All the detainees who are eligible for transfer out of the prison have undergone a review by the Periodic Review Board since the start of the Biden administration, Kirby added.
For those detainees who have been cleared for release, “the diplomatic process is underway to work to transfer or repatriate them as appropriate,” Kirby said.
Bajabu has been detained since 2007, Mark Maher, a staff attorney for the human rights group Reprieve US who represents him, told Fintech Zoom. According to Department of Defense filings, Bajabu was a facilitator for al Qaeda in East Africa before he was detained. He was never charged with any crimes.
The Periodic Review Board noted that its decision to clear Bajabu for release was based on his “low level of training and lack of leadership role in his pre-detention activities.”
“Today’s decision is wonderful news for Abdul Malik, who has been unjustly detained for 15 years without charge or trial,” Maher told Fintech Zoom. “He longs to be reunited with his family, and we hope the Biden administration will ensure his release happens quickly.”
Duran is the first “high value” detainee to be cleared by the Periodic Review Board, his attorney told Fintech Zoom. Duran was taken into US custody in 2004 and has been detained at Guantanamo without charges since September 2006, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents him.
According to Defense Department documents, Duran supported and served as a “key member” of al Qaeda in East Africa’s network in Somalia.
Duran testified in publicly available court documents that he had been tortured when he was held at a CIA-operated black site after first being taken into US custody. He described hours of interrogation with sleep deprivation, little food or water and sexual abuse from interrogators.
This story has been updated with additional information.