Guantánamo Bay has existed for over 19 years and was built to house an exclusively Muslim male population. It causes deep distrust in what America says and stands for. Closing it for good is not only possible but a must.


The statement below is part of an open letter to president Biden written by seven authors and ex-Guantanamo prisoners held there without charge or trial. It was first published by the New York Review on 29 January 2021.  

We write to you as former prisoners of the United States held without charge or trial at the military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. Each of us has written a book about our experiences.

Guantánamo Bay has existed for over nineteen years and was built to house an exclusively Muslim male population.

We understand that your faith is important to you and helps to guide your vision of social justice. During our incarceration, we often reflected on the story of the Prophet Joseph (Yusuf) in the Quran and his years of wrongful imprisonment. It’s the same story in the Bible and one that reminds us that justice is not only divine, but timeless. That is why we are writing to you.

There are only forty prisoners left in Guantánamo. We are told that the cost of each prisoner is $13 million per annum. That means that the United States spends $520 million a year on imprisoning men who will never be charged or convicted in a US court. Aside from the moral, legal, and public relations disaster that is Guantánamo, some of this money could be easily spent on programs to resettle prisoners and help them to rebuild their lives.

It is therefore our suggestion that the following steps are taken to close Guantánamo:
1- All those cleared for release are immediately repatriated to their home countries, as long as they are safe from arbitrary imprisonment and persecution.

2- The office for the special envoy is reopened and suitable countries are sought to restart the resettlement process for those unable to return to their homes.

3- Appropriate measures are taken to ensure that former prisoners are granted the means to start a meaningful life in the new country and are afforded protections from violations of those measures by the receiving state.

4- The concept of “forever prisoners” is rescinded, and those not facing charges under the military commissions are repatriated or resettled (as above) following appropriate security arrangements.

5- Repatriation/resettlement should not take place by force, and prisoners are not resettled where they will face arbitrary imprisonment once again.

6- Periodic Review Board reports should be superseded by the imperative to close Guantánamo and not obstruct the above measures.

7- The military commissions should be scrapped, and those facing charges should have their cases tried in accordance with the law.

8- Where appropriate and practicable, mechanisms are put in place whereby those convicted of crimes can serve their sentences closer to home.
If you are a former Guantanamo prisoner, guard or interrogator, a former member of the US military, a religious leader, an official, a lawyer, an academic, a campaigner or a personality, we urge you to join us.
Mansoor Adayfi 
Moazzam Begg 
Lakhdar Boumediane
Sami Al Hajj
Ahmed Errachidi
Mohammed Ould Slahi 
Mosa Zemmouri
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