Half the Prisoners at Guantánamo Have been Cleared for Release, but Still Can’t Leave

Friday, June 06, 2014
Yemenis cleared for release but still at Guantánamo

The so-called “Taliban Five” are now in Qatar, leaving behind plenty of acrimony in Washington, DC, among Republicans and nearly 80 fellow detainees at Guantánamo who were cleared for release years ago.


With the departure of the Taliban prisoners, more than half of Gitmo’s population now consists of individuals approved for release (78 out of 149). But reluctance on the part of the Obama administration has kept these men behind bars, fearing the political consequences of letting go so many perceived terrorists.


Cori Crider, an attorney for the British human rights group Reprieve, which has represented many Guantánamo detainees, wrote following the exchange of Taliban prisoners for POW Bowe Bergdahl that President Barack Obama “is plainly concerned with how this prison will affect his legacy; in releasing the cleared, he has a genuine opportunity to solve much of the remaining problem before the end of his term.”


Another Reprieve official, founder Clive Stafford Smith, says the freeing of the Taliban Five was an act of hypocrisy.


“The five Taliban were arguably among those who had actually committed crimes, if fighting foreign troops who invaded their country could be deemed an offense. At the very least, they had taken part in hostilities and might, originally, have been legitimately detained as bona fide prisoners of war—a position that would be more defensible if only the U.S. respected the Geneva Conventions,” Smith wrote. 


“Compare those five men to the 78 detainees remaining in Guantánamo Bay who have been held there for 12 years or more and yet have been cleared for release for half that time,” he said, adding that “it is certainly ironic that those who were purportedly guilty should be liberated while the patently innocent should remain.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Forget the 'Taliban Five' – Obama's Real Chance is to Free Gitmo's Cleared 78 (by Cori Crider, Reprieve)

At Guantánamo Bay, the Guilty Go Free, the Innocent Remain (by Clive Stafford Smith, Al Jazeera America)

Guantanamo Prisoners Cleared for Release Continue to Be Punished for Being Yemeni (by Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake)

Guantánamo by the Numbers: What You Should Know & Do About Guantánamo (Center for Constitutional Rights)

Cleared for Release, but Still at Guantánamo, Prisoner Committed Suicide (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Half of Prisoners Still Held at Guantánamo Have Actually been Cleared for Release (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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