Civil Liberties

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, the Gitmo Prisoner Who Died September 8, Was First Cleared for Release in 2009


During then nearly 11 years that Guantanamo Bay has held prisoners of the war on terror, nine people have died there — six of which were ostensibly suicides. The ninth man who died on September 8 doesn't seem to have left the planet by his own hand, though the official cause of death has not been released.

Yemeni Adnan Farham Abdul Latif, though, was apparently sedated and depressed, and mostly left in solitary confinement. He made numerous suicide attempts during his stint in Gitmo, as well. So we'll have to see whether he finally succeeded, or whether the cause of his death was something else.

But it gets worse. Latif, who spent nearly a third of his life in Gitmo after being captured by Pakistani police near the Afghanistan border in December 2001, was first cleared for freedom…in 2009. 

NBC news reports that a unanimous panel of security experts had to approve the release, and they did so with Latif, a Yemeni citizen whose supposed ties to Al-Qaeda were also, in the words of U.S. Judge Henry Kennedy who upheld that finding a year later, "unconvincing." Notes Amnesty International, Judge Kennedy also noted:

Adnan Latif's detention was unlawful, even under the broad authority claimed by the government, and that he should be released. The Obama administration appealed and in October 2011, the Court of Appeals overturned the ruling. In a meeting with his lawyer 11 days later, Adnan Latif said "I am a prisoner of death". 

That Appeals decision can be found here. It is, however, chock full of redacted passages. The main question at play was whether the document from Pakistani police detailing Latif's supposed Al-Queda connections was enough to hold him in spite of the above mentioned decisions.

Latif went on hunger strikes throughout 2012, his last one ending in June. 

Amnesty International had intended to launch a campaign to free Latif. Their website also notes that the prisoner was denied a hearing aid that he needed for injuries sustained in a 1994 car accident.

In December, Jacob Sullum explained Latif's reasons for having been in the suspicious border area when he was arrested by Pakistani police. To put it simply, he said he was trying to cross to Afghanistan to seek medical treatment to treat lingering headaches and other complaints from that car accident, then he was trying to cross into Pakistan to meet a Yemeni man who had "promised to help him." 

There are 167 prisoners still detained at Gitmo, in spite of the 2008 ruling that found they had habeas corpus rights after all. Still, it seems the ability to challenge your detainment, and even expert conclusions that you're no terrorist are not enough to free you, if the U.S. governments says no.