Gitmo 'Forever Prisoner' Cleared for Release

Khalid Ahmed Qasim was held for more than 20 years without being charged
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2022 6:48 PM CDT
Guantanamo Inmate Cleared for Release After 20 Years
A sculpture by Khalid Qasim is signed with his prisoner number, 242, at an exhibit of an artwork at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Khalid Ahmed Qasim, aka Prisoner 242, has been cleared for release after spending almost half his life detained without charge at Guantanamo Bay. Human rights organization Reprieve says the 45-year-old Yemeni national was taken into custody in Afghanistan in Dec. 2001 and brought to the American base in May 2002, CNN reports. The Periodic Review Board set up under the Obama administration has decided that there is no longer any cause to hold Qasim in custody and he should be released to a country "with a strong rehabilitation and reintegration program." Under US law, Guantanamo detainees can't be released to Yemen.

According to Reprieve, Qasim, long considered one of the detention facility's "forever prisoners," was "severely tortured" during his years in custody. He had said he spent his first nine years at Guantanamo in solitary confinement and was on hunger strike for years. Qasim has said he traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 to help people in need, and turned himself in to authorities after Northern Alliance warlords started hunting down anybody of Arab descent to turn over to US forces. He has said that after he was tortured, he falsely confessed to training with al-Qaeda.

The review board earlier determined that Qasim had, at most, a "low level of training and lack of leadership in al-Qaeda or the Taliban" but said he was ineligible for release because of an "inability to manage his emotions and actions" and a lack of plans for the future, CBS reports. It's not clear when or where Qasim will be resettled, but Reprieve lawyer Mark Maher says Qasim learned both English and Spanish during his 20 years at the facility so he should have a range of options. He says that when Qasim gets out, he plans to keep working on his art, some of which was displayed in an exhibition at CUNY Law School in New York in 2020. (Read more Guantanamo Bay stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.