Diplomatic assurances US obtained from Morocco collapsed upon Guantanamo detainee’s return

October 1, 2015

Image of Younous Chekkouri

The US received diplomatic assurances from Morocco over the safety and freedom of a former Guantanamo detainee, which collapsed upon his return to the country, it can now be revealed.

Younous Chekkouri, 47, was returned to Morocco in mid-September. Reprieve is now able to reveal that, beginning in March of this year, the State Department told Younous’ lawyers that their officials had received the following specific assurances about Mr Chekkouri:

–       that Morocco had heard and accepted the stated view of the US State Department that there was no cause to charge Younous with any offence;

–       that Morocco had pledged it had no intention of lodging charges against Younous;

–       that he would not be detained in Morocco for longer than 72 hours;

However, these assurances collapsed entirely upon Younous’ return to Morocco and he has been imprisoned ever since. He is currently being held in Salé prison, potentially facing charges that are highly likely to derive from allegations that were disproven when tested in Younous’ US court case. Moroccan authorities are expected to make a decision on October 22 whether to formally charge Younous.

Meanwhile, the US government is refusing to expedite the release of documents proving Younous’ innocence. Younous’ lawyers at Reprieve last week filed an emergency motion in US courts asking that they release – by October 30th – information which could exonerate Younous. Yet the US has failed to release the files or to commit to a date for the release the vast majority of them. The files contain evidence which is potentially crucial to Younous’ defense in Morocco.

Younous was cleared by the US government in 2010 – a process involving unanimous agreement by six federal agencies including the Departments of State and Defense and the CIA and FBI. He was never 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for habeas corpus was litigated through to a hearing, and saw the US government drop almost every allegation it had originally made against Younous.

Cori Crider, Younous’ attorney and a director at international human rights NGO Reprieve, said: “We are extremely concerned that the Government of Morocco’s explicit promises about the way it would treat Younous have not yet been honored. The United States is a close ally of Morocco, and knows full well that there are no grounds to charge my client, so they ought to be taking the violated assurances far more seriously. The US needs to escalate its representations to the highest level, so Younous can rejoin his family before it is too late.”


Notes to editors

  1. 1. 1.    For more information please contact Reprieve’s press office, on: clemency [dot] wells [at] reprieve [dot] org [dot] uk // 00 44 (0) 7739 188 097

2.    Further information about Saleh prison in Morocco, can be found here: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE290012015ENGLISH.PDF