Guantanamo, Cuba (Reprieve) – The hearing of a former Guantanamo detainee in Morocco has been postponed after the judge in his case asked for a full report on a short US Justice Department letter, conceding that the key American allegations against him were withdrawn in 2011.
Younous Chekkouri, 47, has been detained since his release from Guantanamo after the US failed to enforce diplomatic assurances it received from the Moroccans that he would not be imprisoned. Just days before today’s hearing in Rabat, the US Department of Justice sent a short letter to Younous’ lawyers at human rights charity Reprieve, conceding that several years ago they “withdrew all reliance” on “all evidence identifying Mr. Chekkouri with the group known as Group Islamique Combatant Maroc [sic] “GICM””. This had been the chief allegation against Mr. Chekkouri until the government withdrew it.
Today’s hearing was called to decide whether Younous will be imprisoned on charges in Morocco, which are apparently based on the now-revoked US allegations. However the Judge postponed his ruling, saying that he needed a full report on the Department of Justice’s short concession letter.
In Guantanamo, Younous was never charged with a crime and his petition for habeas corpus was litigated through to a hearing. It saw the US government drop almost every allegation it had originally made against him. Younous was cleared by the US government in 2010 – a process involving unanimous agreement by six federal agencies including the Departments of State and Defense, the CIA, and the FBI.
Cori Crider, Younous’ attorney and a director at Reprieve, said: “The US government has held Younous’ life in its hands for the past 14 years – and they still do. What is the US doing to enforce the promises it made to Younous about how he would be treated in Morocco? DoJ officials sent a short and infuriatingly opaque letter to us in Younous’ case – which failed to explain exactly why they had conceded the case against him, or to detail their position that he should be released without charge. Why is the US not enforcing the diplomatic agreement it made with Morocco? From where I’m standing – next to a wrongly imprisoned man and his family – it looks like those at the top of the US government are not doing their job.”
This report was prepared by Reprieve.