story

Guantánamo Detainee Freed to Belize

    Guantánamo Detainee Freed to Belize
    Last updated Feb 03, 2023
    Image credit: Pool/Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

    Facts

    • Majid Khan, a former al-Qaeda courier turned US government witness, has been transferred from the US-run detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Belize, nearly a year after he finished his sentence.[1]
    • Khan, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003, was initially held at secret overseas CIA black sites, where he endured brutal interrogation methods, including waterboarding, beatings, and sleep deprivation, before being sent to Guantánamo.[2]
    • Khan in 2012 struck a plea deal that required him to plead guilty to war crimes, including murder and spying, and vow to never sue the US government. A military jury suggested a lenient sentence because of what he endured.[1]
    • According to a US official, Khan waited a year before his release largely due to difficulty finding a country to take him. Federal law prohibits detainees from being resettled in the US, and there are other legal constraints preventing the repatriation of certain detainees to their home countries.[1]
    • Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Pakistan, Khan moved to Maryland with his family as a teenager. He confessed to joining al-Qaeda following a trip to Pakistan in 2002.[3]
    • According to US officials, there are still 34 detainees at Guantánamo Bay, including 20 who are eligible for transfer. A handful of others are under review.[4]

    Spin

    Democratic narrative

    This is a milestone in Biden’s attempt to resettle all the Guantánamo prisoners and close the book on an era of human rights mistakes. It’s been a challenge finding ways to do this in the face of restrictive US laws and tentative foreign countries, but this is a step in the right direction toward emptying the prison.

    Republican narrative

    Prisoners at Guantánamo are dangerous terrorists, and they shouldn't be given the opportunity to return to the battlefield. Should Biden actually try to shut down Guantánamo, he risks not only a partisan backlash but also the safety and security of US allies.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the US will close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp by December 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Political split

    LEFT

    RIGHT

    More neutral political stance articles