In 2009, the ACLU joined forces with existing habeas corpus counsel for Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who had been subjected to the worst treatments meted out to Guantanamo prisoners. We assisted at a merits hearing and with briefs addressing several issues, including questions of when the armed conflict with al-Qaida began and the scope of military detention authority, given that Mr. Slahi was allegedly “captured on the battlefield” while showering in his own home in Mauritania.

In April 2010, the district court found that the government had not shown that Mr. Slahi had provided purposeful and material support for al-Qaida or had remained part of al-Qaida after 1992 (before which he had been active with the mujahideen in Afghanistan, when the United States was supporting them). The court issued a writ of habeas corpus and ordered Mr. Slahi released. The government appealed. In November 2010, the court of appeals held that intervening decisions had “cast serious doubt on the district court’s approach to determining whether an individual is ‘part of’ al-Qaida.” It therefore vacated and remanded for a new determination.

In February 2013, the government filed its 333-page “Public Factual Return” (as contrasted with the classified version of the return), detailing the factual allegations that it asserts to justify Mr. Slahi’s continued detention. But the habeas case did not move forward.

In June 2015 we filed a motion asking the court to order the government to provide our client with a long-overdue Periodic Review Board hearing, the purpose of which is to determine whether he currently presents a threat to the security of the United States or can safely be released.

The court ruled in our favor, and Mr. Slahi’s Periodic Review Board meeting was held in June 2016. The PRB cleared Mr. Slahi for release, specifically mentioning his good behavior in custody, his strong family ties, and a resilient support network in Mauritania.

In October 2016, Mr. Slahi was finally released from custody and repatriated to Mauritania. 

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward P.A. (Albuquerque); Duncan Earnest LLC (Albuquerque); Seton Hall Law School; Linda Moreno, P.A. (Tampa)

Date filed

April 9, 2010