Reprieve is dismayed that ‘freed’ Guantánamo prisoner Mohammed el Gharani is inexplicably imprisoned

June 18, 2009

Image of Mohammed el Gharani holding his baby

Reprieve is dismayed that ‘freed’ Guantánamo prisoner Mohammed el Gharani is inexplicably imprisoned by government of Chad; demands his immediate release to his family. 

Sold to US forces at just 14 years old, even the Bush administration admits that Mohammed el Gharani is an innocent victim who was wrongfully imprisoned for seven years in Guantánamo Bay.

Last week Mohammed was finally ‘freed’ by the Obama Administration – yet his ordeal continues.

Seven days after leaving Guantánamo, Mohammed is still detained by the police in Chad – with no prospect of release. Sleeping on a cot in a police station while his family waits anxiously outside, no-one can tell Mohammed when – or if – he will finally taste freedom.

Mohammed cannot leave the main police headquarters without authorisation from the Head of the Judicial Police; after obtaining that permission he is accompanied by a police officer wherever he goes. He has asked on several occasions to be released and reunited with his family but continues to be told: “Just another night Mohammed”. There has been no public announcement in Chad regarding Mohammed’s return and he has been forbidden from speaking to the media.

“Enough is enough. Mohammed has suffered seven years of abuse and illegal imprisonment from the age of 14,” said Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith. “Our lawyers have proved his innocence and it is disgraceful that he is still not free. We call on the Chad government to show compassion to Mohammed and his family and release him immediately.”

Returning yesterday from a trip to Chad where they had hoped to celebrate Mohammed’s freedom, Reprieve’s Chris Chang and Ahmed Ghappour were dismayed and disappointed to find that Mohammed is now a prisoner of the Chadian authorities.

“For over two years the Chadian government have worked with Reprieve to fight for Mohammed’s freedom and resettlement in his native Chad. It is appalling that he continues to be held. This is not freedom,” said Chang, an investigator with Reprieve. Mohammed’s detention defies even Chadian law, where you cannot be held longer than 48 hours without being charged with a crime,’ said Reprieve attorney Ahmed Ghappour. What is disturbing about this ordeal is the Chadian government’s insistence that Mohammed is not a prisoner, mirroring the doublespeak used by the US towards the end of Mohammed’s term. He was designated a ‘freed detainee’ for months before his transfer to Chad.”

In an interview yesterday when asked what he wants now Mohammed replied simply: “I just want to be free.”

-ENDS-

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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