Political Analysis

Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainee found dead in cell

National Yemen

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a citizen of Yemen who was detained by U.S. forces shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, was found dead in his cell at the Guantanamo Bay military prison on Sept. 8.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has identified the detainee found dead in his Guantanamo Bay cell Saturday as a Yemeni whose lawyer said he was approved for a transfer home three years ago.

An autopsy was conducted on the body of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, but investigators have yet to determine his cause of death, officials said Tuesday.

Latif, who was in his 30s, was captured by U.S. forces soon after the invasion of Afghanistan that followed 9-11. The U.S. said he had traveled from Yemen to Afghanistan, where he attended terrorist training camps.

His pro bono American lawyer, Michael Remes, countered that Latif had traveled to Pakistan seeking medical care following a car accident, only to be rounded up along with other expatriate Arabs after 9-11.

Remes said Latif attempted suicide at least once while in U.S. custody in 2009, and described his client as psychologically unwell.

“Whatever the cause, it was Guantanamo that killed him,” said Remes, who had been scheduled to meet with his client in Cuba next Tuesday.

In 2009, President Obama, in an effort to close the military prison, ordered a review of all detainees’ cases and that each be designated for trial, release or indefinite detention.

Latif was cleared for transfer to Yemeni custody, Remes revealed Monday. The detainee, however, had an unlawful detention suit pending in federal court, Remes said, and “this administration is loath to transfer prisoners to Yemen.”

The Middle Eastern country is a U.S. ally that is fighting an insurgent Al Qaeda affiliate, but the nation has a history of large-scale jailbreaks involving suspected terrorists.

In 2010 a federal judge ruled on Latif’s suit and ordered the Obama Administration to release him to Yemen as soon as possible.

Last year, however, an appellate court overturned the ruling.

Latif is the ninth detainee to die at Guantanamo. Six have killed themselves, while the remaining two died of natural causes, according to the Pentagon.

Andrea J. Prasow of Human Rights Watch said the death “should draw the world’s attention to the ongoing tragedy of indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo.”

“It’s time for the Obama administration to make good on its promise to close Guantanamo, and either charge the remaining detainees in civilian court or release them,” Prasow said.

The death brings the total number of detainees at the camp to 167, from a high of nearly 700.

Prisoners at Guantanamo include 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others; all are facing the death penalty at trial for facilitating the terror attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.