The hearing date, handed down earlier this month, means that Slahi has been finally granted the review he and his lawyers have been seeking for years.
Slahi has been detained in Guantanamo for the past 14 years despite never having been charged with a crime. If cleared for transfer-out by the review board this June, the Department of Defense could release him from prison within 30 days.
Slahi, now 45, was renditioned into U.S custody after being arrested by authorities in his native Mauritania. After being shuttled to prisons in Jordan and Afghanistan, he arrived in Guantanamo in August 2002. As a detainee, he was subjected to years of torture by his American captors, events he wrote about in harrowing personal detail in Guantanamo Diary.
In 2010, a federal judge granted Slahi a writ of habeas corpus and ordered his release, a decision that the government successfully appealed. He has remained in legal limbo ever since, but his upcoming PRB hearing could afford him a new chance to leave the prison.
“More than anything, Mohamedou wants to show the board that he poses no threat to the United States and should be allowed to return home to his family where he belongs,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, in a statement announcing the hearing.
Although the government had once characterized Slahi as a major Al Qaeda operative, officials involved in his case have since cast doubt on those claims. Former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor Morris Davis has said that, during a 2007 interagency meeting, the government concluded that it had no actual evidence of Slahi’s involvement in terrorism. Another former Guantanamo prosecutor, Stuart Couch, refused to prosecute Slahi’s case after learning that he had been tortured in custody.
Since his rendition and detention at Guantanamo, Slahi’s brother Yahdih Ould Slahi has been a vocal advocate for his imprisoned brother. Speaking to The Intercept from his home in Germany, he expressed hope that his brother would finally be released from prison. “Our family had great joy to hear that Mohammedou will have a hearing that might release him soon,” Yahdih said. “We’ve had patience for six years after he first was cleared in 2010. The state sold his life cheaply, but we are sure that Mohammedou will convince the court to acquit him because he did not commit any sin.”