In 2002, when he was studying Islamic law at Salafi University in Faisalabad, Pakistan, the police raided a house where he was dining with other Yemeni nationals. Due to their presumed links to al-Qaeda, they were all handed to U.S. authorities, and days later transferred to Guantanamo. In 2005, al-Odaini was cleared for release from the detention facility, and furthermore, in May 2010, a U.S. federal judge ordered the administration to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps” to arrange his discharge.
There are almost 30 other Yemenis held in Guantanamo without charge or trial, even though they were cleared for release by an interagency task force created by President Obama.
However, their situation is hopefully about to change. According to The Washington Post, “[t]he Obama administration is considering partially lifting its suspension of all transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen”, due to the national and international pressure on al-Odaini’s case.
The U.S. might permit the transfer to their home country of Yemeni detainees–including al-Odaini—that were already cleared for release. Those transfers were suspended by President Obama in January 2010 after the thwarted Christmas Day bombing by a Nigerian national that had been in Yemen.
In the meantime, Amnesty International is still deeply concerned that al-Odani and other Yemeni nationals remain illegally detained in Guantanamo after years of delay. Join us in urging President Obama, Attorney General and Secretary of State Clinton to release Mohammed al-Odaini immediately.