The Guantanamo Bay detainee famous for writing the “Guantanamo Diary” memoir was just released to Mauritania, a country in West Africa, after being held in the facility since August 2002.
Former al-Qaida militant Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was cleared for transfer in July, is on his way back to West Africa where he has family and an “extensive support network,” The Miami Herald reports. The administrative review in July found that he did not pose an ongoing threat to the United States.
“I feel grateful and indebted to the people who have stood by me,” Slahi said. “I have come to learn that goodness is transnational, trans-cultural, and trans-ethnic. I’m thrilled to reunite with my family.”
Nancy Hollander, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer heavily involved in Slahi’s case, said she believes he’s only interested in living with his family and starting over again.
“We are thrilled that our client’s nightmare is finally ending,” Hollander said. “After all these years, he wants nothing more than to be with his family and rebuild his life. We’re so grateful to everyone who helped make this day a reality.”
Slahi hopes to be able to travel outside of Mauritania to promote his book, a memoir of his time in Guantanamo Bay, which was published January 2015, after the U.S. government declassified the notes he wrote in 2005.
The book generated incredible support and advocacy for his case, resulting in a petition that garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
The latest transfer brings the total detainee population of Guantanamo Bay to 60 — 19 of whom have been approved for transfer. The rest are slated for indefinite detainment.
“The United States is grateful to the government of Mauritania for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said, according to The Hill. “The United States coordinated with the government of Mauritania to ensure this transfer took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”
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