Younous was doing charity work in Afghanistan when he was rounded up with other Arabs and taken to a prison in Kandahar.
He was sold to US forces for a bounty and then taken to Guantánamo Bay. He was held without charge for 14 years before finally being released to his native Morocco in September 2015.
But his ordeal didn’t end there – on arrival in Morocco he was held in prison for almost 5 months. Although freed from prison on 12 February 2016, he faced an ongoing legal battle to fully clear his name. On 14th February 2018, Younous was acquitted of all charges in a Moroccan court. After 16 years, he was truly a free man.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped me through these hard times, my lawyers, everyone in the United States and Europe and Morocco who has stood by me and been my friend the whole time. I cannot believe I am free. I am so happy. Thank you.”
Reprieve has represented Younous during his detention in Guantánamo and we continued to support his fight for freedom in Morocco.
Younous was born in Morocco, but moved to Pakistan when he was 22 years old with his siblings where further education was more affordable. After a series of family tragedies, he struggled financially to stay in Pakistan and tried to find work and cheaper studies in Yemen and Syria.
A strong believer in giving back to society, he moved to Afghanistan in June 2001 where he did charity work and started a business. He fled the instability post 9/11, but was rounded up and sold to US forces.
In 2002 Younous was taken to Guantánamo. After Reprieve took up his case, six US federal agencies – including the Departments of State and Defense as well as the CIA and FBI – unanimously agreed to clear him for release in 2010. He has never faced a trial or been charged with a crime. His petition for habeas corpus was litigated through to a hearing, and saw the US government drop almost every allegation it had originally made against Younous.
In 2013, he joined a mass hunger strike in protest at his continued imprisonment. He described the heavy-handed response of the guards:
After our peaceful demonstration, on Saturday morning the guards came in with guns…they used shot guns and three people were injured.
The work Reprieve did for Younous was entirely funded by people like you. There are many more prisoners being held at Guantánamo, and it is our job to help them.
A former Guantanamo prisoner has today been released in Morocco after almost five months of detention in Morocco and 14 years in Guantanamo Bay.
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A court in Rabat has today extended the detention of Younous Chekkouri, whom the US transferred from Guantanamo to Morocco seven weeks ago based on assurances that he would not be imprisoned.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch is to visit Morocco for a ‘judicial cooperation’ summit, it’s emerged, as a Moroccan court considers whether a former Guantanamo detainee should be jailed on the basis of discredited US allegations.
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