Mohammed el Gharani (imprisoned aged 14) to be released from Guantánamo Bay

January 15, 2009

Image of Mohammed el Gharani holding his baby

Reprieve is thrilled that our client Mohammed el Gharani is to be released from Guantánamo Bay following a federal court order obtained yesterday.

Judge Leon ruled that Mohammed, who was just 14 when he was imprisoned in Guantánamo in 2002, is not and never has been an enemy combatant, and was wrongfully held at the notorious military prison.

Reprieve is relieved that Mohammed’s seven-year ordeal – which included a litany of terrible abuse – is finally over and that he can return to his family.

Mohammed was sold to the US for bounty, accused of participating in an Al Qaida cell in London. Mohammed has never been to England and would have been 11 at the time in question. This case shows how dangerously flawed Guantánamo evidence can be.

Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith said: “It is great that justice has been done at last, but Mohammed spent his teenage years in Guantanamo for crimes which he did not commit. The idea that he was involved in an Al Qaida cell in London – when he has never been to London and at a time when he would have been 11 – suggests that US Intelligence is not worthy of the name.”

Lawyer Cori Crider said: “Mohammed is an intelligent boy who should have spent his teenage years in school, not learning how to survive a military prison. We applaud Judge Leon’s decision and wish Mohammed all the best in rebuilding his life.”


Reprieve lawyers Clive Stafford Smith, Cori Crider and Ahmed Ghappour are available for comment today.
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Notes for editors:

Mohammed el Gharani is the youngest remaining juvenile in Guantanamo Bay. He was just 14 years old when he was seized by the Pakistani authorities and sold to the US military for a bounty. As a Chad national living in Saudi Arabia, his opportunities for education were extremely limited, so Mohammed had left his home for Pakistan, hoping to learn English and train to work with computers.Seized in a random raid on a mosque, targeting Arabs and Africans, in Pakistan in October 2001, he is one of 22 juveniles held in Guantánamo Bay since the prison opened in January 2002, according to lists compiled by the US Department of Defense.Mohammed has endured terrible abuse, first in Pakistani custody, and for the last six and half years in US custody, first at the US prison at Kandahar airport and then at Guantánamo, where, he has explained, he has been hung from his wrists on 30 occasions. On one occasion a heavily armoured riot squad slammed his head into the floor of his cell, breaking one of his teeth, and on another occasion a cigarette was stubbed out on his arm by an interrogator. Mohammed has said that he received constant abuse from some guards at Guantánamo, much stemming from his vocal objection to being called a “nigger” by US military personnel. As a result of the violence against him he became deeply depressed, and tried to commit suicide on several occasions. The FBI conducted an inquiry into Mohammed’s mistreatment. Copies of their report and Judge Leon’s full judgement are available on request.

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