Military Commissions

Guantanamo Detainee Files Suit for Release Following Completion of 10-Year Sentence

By Tia Sewell
Monday, July 11, 2022, 1:30 PM

On June 7, Majid S. Khan, a Pakistani detainee at Guantánamo Bay whose sentence ended on March 1, filed a 30-page petition for a writ of habeas corpus against President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Lance Okamura, the U.S. commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo. The lawsuit demands that the Biden administration approve Khan’s transfer anywhere outside of Pakistan, given that Khan could never return to the country without facing “substantial risk of persecution from myriad state and non-state actors” against whom he cooperated during his detention. “For the same reason,” the petition notes, “his wife and daughter must be safely resettled with him in a country other than Pakistan.”

Khan, who was involved with al-Qaeda beginning in 2002, was tortured while held in CIA custody for three years, from 2003-2006, and was thereafter transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006. In October 2007, Khan was afforded access to legal counsel, at which point he “approached the U.S. Department of Justice and expressed his willingness to plead guilty and cooperate with U.S. authorities,” according to the petition. In Feb. 2012, Khan was charged with conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, and spying. He pleaded guilty to these charges and agreed to cooperate fully with U.S. authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence of 11 years, set to begin on Feb. 29, 2012. 

On March 11, 2022, the Convening Authority for Military Commissions determined that having fulfilled his cooperation obligations, Khan’s sentence would be reduced to 10 years, meaning that his sentence had thereby ended on March 1, 2022. Despite this, the petition asserts, Khan “has not been transferred from Guantanamo… nor is his transfer reasonably foreseeable” and further, Khan’s “conditions of confinement at Guantanamo have become more punitive in certain respects since he completed his sentence.”

The petition was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and maintains that Khan’s continued imprisonment at Guantánamo “is arbitrary, indefinite and perpetual,” a detention that violates U.S. and international law. The petition specifically cites breach of the Military Commissions Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and the Law of War, the Geneva Conventions, and the Eighth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

You can read the filing here and below: