Guantanamo prisoner tells of release trauma in first meeting with lawyer

September 21, 2015

Image of Younous Chekkouri

A Guantanamo prisoner released to his native Morocco has spoken of the terror he felt at the way he was treated by US authorities on his flight home.

Younous Chekkouri — released from Guantanamo last week having been held in the US prison for more than a decade without charge or trial – was blindfolded, forced to wear ear-defenders, and had his arms shackled to his legs during the ten hour flight to Morocco. In a testimony given today to his local lawyer in Casablanca, where he remains detained, Younous described how the flight replicated the total sight and sound deprivation he experienced when he was first rendered to Guantanamo.

Lawyers for Younous at international human rights NGO Reprieve, have raised concerns about his ongoing detention in Morocco and the effect that the behaviour of the US authorities, during his transfer, would have had on his fragile mental state.

In 2010, Younous was cleared for release from Guantanamo – a process involving unanimous agreement by six US federal agencies including the CIA, FBI and Departments of State and Defense. 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for habeas corpus was litigated through to a hearing, and saw the US government drop almost every allegation it had originally made against Younous.

Cori Crider, attorney for Younous and strategic director at Reprieve, said: “Younous was tortured and brutally mistreated for years during his Guantanamo ordeal. As if this weren’t enough for a man the US government would later declare should never have been imprisoned in the first place, he then spent the flight back to Morocco blindfolded and with his arms shackled to his legs. We are very concerned for Younous’ health during his ongoing detention in Morocco and urge the authorities to release him as soon as possible.”

ENDS

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: + 44 (0) 7739 188 097 or in the USA 00 (1) 917 855 8064