Famous for drafting a 2,000 Arabic-to-English dictionary. Clear for release. Missed out on freedom due to bureaucratic delay. No charge or trial.
Abdullatif Nasser is a 51-year-old Moroccan national who was sold for a bounty to the US military in 2002. He was detained in Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial. Abdullatif was cleared for release in July 2016, but remains in Guantánamo to this day due to bureaucratic delay.
Abdullatif has a strong appetite for learning, and has taken every opportunity to study during his imprisonment. When he arrived at Guantánamo in May 2002, he knew no English, but after years of independent study, he now speaks fluently with his attorney and the guard force. He is also famous across the prison base for drafting his own 2,000-word English-to-Arabic dictionary. Upon his release, Abdullatif would ultimately like to pursue a career in computer science.
Reprieve attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis describes Abdullatif as an “introspective, intelligent, and kind-hearted man” who loves to learn.
At his Periodic Review Board hearing in July 2016, Abdullatif told the Board that he wishes to be repatriated to Morocco, to be with his family and begin a new life. A number of family members have said they would financially support his reintegration. Abdullatif would also be supported by Reprieve’s Life After Guantánamo program, which supports ex-prisoners after their release.
Following his hearing, Abdullatif was unanimously approved by the Periodic Review Board for transfer home to Morocco on July 11th, 2016. However, the Moroccan government took too long to respond to the US resettlement request, and Abdullatif’s freedom was consequently snatched away due to the slow transfer process.
On January 18 2017, Abdullatif’s attorneys filed emergency litigation on his behalf, asking the court to relieve the Obama Administration of the burden of the 30-day Congressional notice requirement. This would have allowed the Obama Administration to release him to Morocco before President-elect Trump took office.
However, on January 19, the court ruled that Abdullatif has no legal right to leave the prison – despite the fact that he had won his release though the Periodic Review Board, which is his only viable way of being released. In declining to enable Abdullatif’s release, the DC federal court insisted that he had no right to be released, because a win at the Periodic Review Board is merely ‘advisory’.
That decision effectively leaves prisoners at Guantánamo with no way out; no charge, no trial, and no enforceable path to release.
On January 19, Reprieve wrote an urgent letter to President Obama, asking him to withdraw opposition to our motion and to transfer Abdullatif home to Morocco immediately. The White House never responded.
As a consequence, despite being cleared for release, Abdullatif now faces indefinite detention at the mercy of the Trump Administration.
Abdullatif Nasser is represented by Reprieve and Thomas Durkin, founding partner of Durkin and Roberts.
Illustration by @carysboughton
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