Detainee who wrote 'Guantanamo Diary' released after 14 years

Detainee who wrote 'Guantanamo Diary' released after 14 years
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A Guantanamo Bay detainee who penned a memoir of his experiences at the facility has been sent back to his home country of Mauritania after 14 years, his lawyers said Monday.

“We are thrilled that our client’s nightmare is finally ending,” said Nancy Hollander, one of Mohamedou Ould Slahi's attorneys, in a written statement. “After all these years, he wants nothing more than to be with his family and rebuild his life. We’re so grateful to everyone who helped make this day a reality.”

Slahi, 45, was cleared for transfer by the parole-like Periodic Review Board in July. His transfer brings the population at Guantanamo to 60.


He became famous after writing a best-selling memoir that detailed allegations of beatings, extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, sexual molestation, frigid rooms, shackling in stress positions and threats against him and his mother while he was at Guantanamo.

The memoir, called “Guantanamo Diary,” was adapted from 466 hand-written pages Slahi wrote for his lawyers in 2005. The pages were originally classified by the government but were later declassified with redactions and published as a book in January 2015.

After the book’s publication, human rights groups launched an international campaign to press for Slahi’s release.

In a statement released Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union, Slahi thanked his supporters.

“I feel grateful and indebted to the people who have stood by me,” Slahi said. “I have come to learn that goodness is transnational, transcultural, and trans-ethnic. I'm thrilled to reunite with my family.”

A February military profile of Slahi alleged that he trained in an al Qaeda camp in the early 1990s. Afterwards, he lived in Germany and recruited others primarily for the Bosnian and Chechen jihads. In 1999, he also facilitated the travel to Chechnya via Afghanistan of the future operational coordinator of the 9/11 attacks and two future 9/11 hijackers, according to the profile.

The profile also said that he would most likely reunite with his family, take care of his sisters and start a business if sent back to Mauritania. He’d also probably travel to promote his memoir if Mauritania allowed him to go abroad, the profile said.

Slahi was cleared for transfer by consensus of the review board in part because of his compliance during detention, according to the board’s July written decision.

The Pentagon confirmed Slahi's transfer to Mauritania later Monday.

"The United States is grateful to the government of Mauritania for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," the Pentagon said in a written statement. "The United States coordinated with the government of Mauritania to ensure this transfer took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures."

-- Updated at 1:46 p.m.