Ahmed Errachidi, finally reunited with his family.

May 3, 2007

Image of barbed wire

Reprieve are delighted to announce that within the last 24 hours Ahmed Errachidi has been reunited with his family after being held prisoner in Guantanamo Bay for over five years.

He was released last Thursday and transferred to Morocco where he was held in police custody before appearing before a judge this Wednesday. All charges against him were dropped and he was released and reunited with his family.

Reprieve has represented Ahmed since 2005 and Reprieve attorneys have visited him numerous times in Guantanamo Bay. Ahmed is one of two British Residents who was designated for release in February this year.

Head of the legal team at Reprieve Clive Stafford Smith, who visited Ahmed in Guantanamo on numerous occasions and is the last person in the UK to have seen him in prison, said:

“Ahmed’s case is an exhibit of everything that is wrong with Guantanamo Bay.  The US military relied on false intelligence, saying Ahmed was the ‘General’ of al Qaeda when he was only a chef from London.  The US said Ahmed was training terrorists in Afghanistan at a time when he was cooking in a London hotel.  When Ahmed was suffering from a mental breakdown in prison the US military continued to interrogate him.  When the British government could have helped prove his innocence, they remained supine.  When Ahmed asked to come back to England, where he worked for 18 years, the British government refused him the most basic humanitarian assistance.  We can only hope that Ahmed gets his life back, with his children, and that the British government develops a back bone such that it stands up for the moral principles that should be its lodestar.”

Ahmed’s family are overjoyed to be with him after more than five years. Ahmed himself is happy to be back with his family after his long ordeal and looking forward to spending time with his wife and two sons. In a statement to Reprieve he said:

“I want to thank everyone at Reprieve for working so tirelessly for me, and for everyone else in Guantanamo Bay.  I want to thank all the people who supported me from Britain.  I received 283 letters from people in Britain, 283 beautiful letters that gave me so much hope.  I am particularly grateful to the mothers and fathers who let their young children write to me and send me the little cards they had drawn, as it was a constant reminder of my own two young boys.  I am very sorry not to have written back to each and every person, but I was treated very, very badly in Guantanamo, they held me in isolation for months on end, and I did not even have a pen.”


Notes to Editors

Ahmed is one of two British residents who was cleared for release in February, Ahmed Belbacha is the other one.  To date, the British government has stated it will not make representations on their behalf.

The other British residents still imprisoned in Guantanamo are: Shaker Aamer, Jamil El Banna, Saiid Farhi, Mohammed Al Qadir, Binyam Mohamed, Ahmed Belbacha, Ahmed Errachidi, Abdennour Sameur and Omar Deghayes.  Not one is charged with a crime.