Dead Gitmo detainee was cleared for release in 2009
By Michael Isikoff, NBC News
Guantanamo Bay detainee Adnan Farham Abdul Latif, in an undated photo provided by his attorney.
The Guantanamo detainee found dead in his prison cell last weekend had been cleared for release three years ago by an Obama administration task force that concluded that his detention was no longer necessary, NBC News has learned.
The disclosure that the detainee, Adnan Farham Abdul Latif, a 32-year-old Yemeni citizen, had been approved for repatriation could raise new questions about the handling of his case and those of scores of others held in Gitmo who also have been cleared for release. Instead, the detainees remain stuck in legal limbo in the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists with no prospect for getting out any time soon.
A special Obama administration task force review found in 2009 that Latif, who had been held at Gitmo since early 2002 and had waged a long legal battle for his freedom, could be released, a conclusion that could only be reached by a unanimous vote of all U.S. intelligence agencies.
That finding was buttressed a year later when U.S. Judge Henry Kennedy ruled that the U.S. government's initial evidence that Latif had links to al-Qaida and the Taliban was "unconvincing." Despite both findings, the Obama administration appealed the ruling -- because it did not want to return him to Yemen, a country it viewed as too unstable.
That stance provoked criticism from human rights groups. At the time of Latif's death, Amnesty International was about to launch an international campaign calling for his freedom, according to David Remes, who headed a legal team that represented Latif.
"Adnan spent more than ten years in Guantanamo-- nearly a third of his life -- but like most Guantanamo detainees, he was never charged with a crime or accused of violating any law," Remes said in a statement released Tuesday.
He "endured great suffering at Guantanamo -- physical and spiritual -- and lived in constant torment" but "could see no end to his confinement," it said. "However he died, Adman's death is a reminder of the injustice of Guantanamo and the urgency of closing the prison." read on...