Fawzi Al-Odah goes home to Kuwait
Dear friends and supporters,
This has been an eventful week. It began with a letter to President Obama from 76 lawmakers, the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, asking to see videotapes of the force-feeding of Guantánamo prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab, long cleared for release but on a hunger strike to protest still being held, who has been waging a successful legal battle against the authorities throughout this year. Andy Worthington, one of the two co-founders of the "Close Guantánamo" campaign, wrote about this letter, written by the co-chairs of the caucus, Reps. Keith Ellison and Raúl Grijalva, in an article on Monday, entitled, "76 U.S. Lawmakers Ask Obama to Let Them See Guantánamo Force-Feeding Videos
On Tuesday, Americans went to the polls, and the results were disappointing for the Obama administration, as Republicans took the Senate
, and strengthened their hold on the House of Representatives.
This will almost certainly lead to greater opposition in Congress to the release of prisoners from Guantánamo and greater opposition to the eventual closure of the prison, but we are delighted to note that the Obama administration chose the morning after the mid-term elections to release Fawzi al-Odah, one of the last two Kuwaitis in Guantánamo, and the first man to be released as a result of being recommended for release by a Periodic Review Board.
This was a decision that took place in July, as we reported here
, and we also profiled Fawzi al-Odah
shortly after launching the "Close Guantánamo" website and campaign in January 2012.
Andy wrote about the release of Fawzi al-Odah on his website
, and we are delighted that he has been released. The other co-founder of the "Close Guantánamo" campaign, Tom Wilner, spent many years representing Fawzi and his compatriot, Fayiz al-Kandari, who is now the last Kuwaiti still held, and in February 2012 Tom and Andy visited Kuwait
to raise awareness of the plight of the two men.
After Fawzi's release, Tom Wilner spoke to Jenifer Fenton of Al-Jazeera America
, and said, "These men have been imprisoned not because of anything they did, or any threat they pose to the United States, but because of demagoguery on one side of the political aisle in the United States and the lack of courage on the other side to stand up to it and do what is right."
The result, he told Fenton, was that Guantánamo "continues to be a symbol of American hypocrisy and a recruiting tool for terrorists around the world."
Here at "Close Guantánamo," we now wish to see more releases -- as there are still 79 men held who, at a high level, the U.S. has said it no longer wants to hold, and holding people you say you don't want to hold is never acceptable. We also promise to keep the other Kuwaiti, Fayiz al-Kandari, in our thoughts, as we don't believe that he constitutes an ongoing threat to the U.S.
With thanks, as ever, for your support.
The "Close Guantánamo" team
P.S. Please, if you will, also ask your friends and family to join us
-- just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. Please also note that we can be found on Twitter here
and on Facebook here