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ACLU Studio: An Innocent Man in Guantánamo

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January 11, 2012

Today marks 10 years since the first prisoners were sent to Guantánamo, making it the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history. Almost 800 men have passed through Guantánamo’s cells. To learn more about the ACLU’s call to close Guantánamo, visit

In 2001, Lakhdar Boumediene was falsely accused of being an al Qaeda operative while working for a humanitarian aid organization in Bosnia. Even though Bosnia’s highest court found no evidence against him, the U.S. government kidnapped Mr. Boumediene and sent him to Guantánamo, where he remained for 7 ½ years without charge or trial.

In a 2008 landmark Supreme Court decision that bears Mr. Boumediene’s name, the Court ruled that the constitutional right of habeas corpus applied to the men imprisoned at Guantánamo.

The Court ordered the government to give Mr. Boumediene and his fellow prisoners a meaningful opportunity in a civilian court to challenge their confinement. Five months later, a United States District Court in Washington heard the supposed evidence against Mr. Boumediene, found it utterly lacking and ordered him set free. In May 2009, Mr. Boumediene was released from Guantánamo and today, he lives in France with his wife and three children.

In the latest episode of ACLU Studio, ACLU National Security Project Senior Staff Attorney Zachary Katznelson talks with Mr. Boumediene about his experiences at Guantanamo and his reflections on the 10-year mark since the first prisoners were taken there.

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