For Immediate Release
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US Must Release Files Proving Innocence of Former Guantanamo Detainee, Say Lawyers
NEW YORK - Lawyers at human rights NGO Reprieve yesterday filed an emergency motion demanding the US government release information which could exonerate a former Guantanamo detainee facing the possibility of charges in Morocco.
Younous Chekkouri, 47, was transferred to his native Morocco last week. He has been detained ever since and the prosecution in Morocco announced on Wednesday that he is now facing the possibility of charges of ‘attempting to disrupt the internal security of the country.’
It is believed that these charges are based on allegations made years ago by the US – almost every one of which was dropped during Younous’ habeas corpus proceedings in federal court. Yet almost all the files from the case remain held under seal by a Washington D.C. court. Without the files being released, Younous’ lawyers will not be able to defend him against the possible Moroccan charges.
Reprieve first began asking the U.S. government to release the files in 2009, and in 2011 presented a “priority list” of thirteen documents. In the nearly four years since, the government has released only one of the requested files. In the rules governing Guantanamo proceedings, the US is obliged to produce public versions of all filings. The emergency motion filed yesterday demands that the government make available all remaining information by October 1st.
The US government cleared Younous for release from Guantanamo in 2010, a process involving unanimous agreement by six US federal agencies - including the CIA, FBI, and Departments of State and Defense – that he poses no threat to the US or anyone else.
Cori Crider, attorney for Younous and a director at human rights NGO Reprieve, said: “The Americans' spurious allegations against Younous have already collapsed once when examined in US federal court and it is entirely unfair for him to face any further charges. Yet Younous is now living a Groundhog Day from hell where he may face yet more years of wrongful imprisonment because the US has failed to release information that I could use, this time in a Moroccan court, to prove his innocence yet again. So we are now forced to fight tooth and nail for information that should have been released years ago.”
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.