Media Allowed to Observe Guantánamo Review Panel for First Time

Thursday, January 30, 2014
Abdel Malik Wahab al Rahabi (photo: Hood, International Red Cross)_

Reporters and others were allowed for the first time to observe a U.S. government review panel determine whether to release a Guantánamo prisoner and send him back to his home country.


Among those remotely watching the Periodic Review Board of Abdel Malik Wahab al Rahabi were members of the media and human rights organizations. The hearing took place at Guantánamo, while video of the proceedings was transmitted to a facility in Arlington, Virginia, for observers to view.


Rahabi is one of the original detainees who arrived at the prison’s opening in January 2002. Of the initial 20 prisoners to arrive, 11 are still there.


Through his attorney, David Remes, the Yemeni told the review panel that he wants to return home and start a farming business (called Yemen Milk & Honey Farms Ltd.),  which he and four other detainees sketched out in a prison business class.


Remes says his client is desperate to leave Guantánamo and live a peaceful life. To prove his determination, Rahabi went on a hunger strike last year that resulted in U.S. troops force-feeding him to keep him alive. He has since gone back to eating and looked “fit,” according to the Miami Herald.


The Obama administration is not convinced that Rahabi can be let go without becoming a threat. A government dossier says the detainee was a member of Osama bin Laden’s security detail more than a decade ago.


Also, the U.S. says Rahabi’s brother-in-law, a former detainee freed in 2007, has since become a “prominent extremist.” Officials fear the same thing could happen with Rahabi if he returns to Yemen.


The recommendation as to Rahabi’s fate that is made by the anonymous members of the Review Board will be reviewed by six senior government department chiefs prior to a final decision. Even if it is determined that he should be released, it is unlikely that would occur in the near future. Fifty-six other Yemeni prisoners already approved for transfer have remained at Guantánamo for more than four years after their release orders.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Yemeni ‘Forever Prisoner’ Asks to Leave Guantánamo (by Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald)

Military Is Asked to Return Guantánamo Inmate to Yemen (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)

‘Transparent’ Detention at Guantánamo? Not Anymore (by Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald)

9/11 Suspects Can’t Mention being Tortured during Trial Testimony because Their Torture is Classified (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Military Court Holds Session so Secret Defendant Can’t Attend (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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