Never Charged, Prisoner Released after 13 Years in Guantánamo Prison

Friday, November 07, 2014
Fawzi al Odah (photo: Department of Defense)

“Forever prisoner” Fawzi al Odah is finally going home.

Odah, one of the first detainees sent to Guantánamo Bay in 2001, was released Wednesday by the Obama administration after 13 years of being held without charge or trial.

Now 37 years old, Odah was captured in the months after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001. He was a teacher in Afghanistan and fled to Pakistan, where he was captured by bounty hunters and turned over to the U.S. military as a suspected member of al Qaeda, according to the Miami Herald.

The U.S. government held to that story for years, and at one point declared Odah too dangerous to release. He became part of a group of detainees dubbed “forever prisoners” because American officials seemed determine to imprison him indefinitely without due process.

In 2009, Odah was a plaintiff in a case that helped establish the right for prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions to be heard by a judge. Odah’s imprisonment was upheld, however.

Things changed for Odah after Obama set up the Periodic Review Board last year to reexamine cases of long-held detainees. That process resulted in a determination that Odah was not an important figure in al Qaeda or a serious threat.

His repatriation to his home country of Kuwait will involve participating in a yearlong rehabilitation program.

There are now 148 prisoners left at Guantánamo, 79 of whom are recommended for transfer, according to The New York Times.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Former ‘Forever Prisoner’ Goes Home To Kuwait (by Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald)

Fouzi Khalid Abdullah Al Awda (Wikipedia)

Kuwaiti Released From Guantánamo Under New Review System (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)

Half the Prisoners at Guantánamo Have been Cleared for Release, but Still Can’t Leave (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



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