Samir Naji Moqbel among ten Guantanamo prisoners released to Oman

January 14, 2016

Image of Samir

The US has released ten Guantanamo detainees to Oman, including Samir Naji Moqbel – a client of human rights organization Reprieve who was held for 14 years without charge or trial.

Samir was on the first plane of prisoners to Guantánamo, in January 2002. Like the others on the first flight, he was taken to the outdoor pens of Camp X-Ray and subjected to severe physical abuse. He was cleared for release in 2009 with the unanimous agreement of six US federal agencies, including the CIA and the FBI.

In 2013, Samir brought global attention to Guantánamo’s mass hunger strike by publishing an opinion piece, entitled ‘Gitmo is Killing Me,’ in the New York Times. After recounting his painful force-feeding sessions to his lawyer at Reprieve, he asked her to publish the account in his name. The story and subsequent revelations sparked a national outcry that spurred President Obama to re-open the State Department office for the closure of Guantánamo Bay, having shuttered it a few months earlier.

Samir, who is from Yemen, had written recently to Reprieve about his fears for loved ones trapped in Yemen’s civil war, saying: “I am very worried about my family. I saw the rubble of what remains of my home town, and I cannot help worrying.” He also spoke of his wish to be released and rebuild his life: “I cannot wait to get out and start my life again. I want to get a job, get married, and establish new roots […] I really want to be productive and work for myself.”

Among the other 9 detainees released to Oman is Reprieve client Mohammed Said bin Salman, another Yemeni who was held at the prison without charge or trial for some 14 years.

The releases come as the Obama Administration weighs whether to release ten tapes of footage showing the force-feeding of another Reprieve client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab. Solicitor-General Don Verrilli has been ordered to decide by January 22nd whether to release the footage to the press, or to appeal a District Court judgment that the tapes should be public.

Force-feeding and accompanying ‘forced cell extractions’ continue at the prison, although the Defense Department has instituted a media black-out on the current number of hunger-striking detainees.

Commenting, Cori Crider, a lawyer for the men and Strategic Director at Reprieve, said:

“Samir is a mild-mannered soul who was driven to hunger strike by sheer desperation, and he was gratified to know that his suffering forced the world to remember the immorality of Guantánamo. We are delighted that the Omani government has given him the chance to rebuild his life and, we hope, to reconnect with his family. But the abuses Samir exposed to the world continue to this day – and the force-feeding videotapes I’ve watched would make your blood run cold. That’s why the Solicitor General ought to let Americans see the footage – the tapes make an exquisite case for why Guantánamo Bay has to close.”


Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] / +1 917 855 8064.