Arkin traveled to Afghanistan in order to look for his younger brother Bahtiyar Mahnut. He is one of approximately twenty-two captives from the Uighur ethnic group. By the summer of 2009 Arkin's mental health had deteriorated so profoundly he wasn't offered sanctuary in Palau. For some time in 2005 during his stay in Guantanamo he was held in solitary confinement.
Until his transfer to Switzerland on March 23, 2010 Arkin Mahmud had been held at Guantanamo for more than seven and a half years despite it became clear early on that he like the other Uyghurs in Guantanamo was innocent.
In July 2009 the Pacific Ocean country of Palau offered sanctuary to all the remaining Uyghur captives in Guantanamo, except Arkin. Arkin's younger brother Bahtiyar declined the invitation of sanctuary in Palau in order to stay with Arkin. Due to reports from camp guards that Arkin had broken the camp's rules from 2005 he was held in isolation from other captives.
Arkin told Elizabeth Gibson, his habeas counself, "I know I'll die in here. In China, at least I would have a trial and sentence."
Switzerland granted political asylum to Arkin Mahmud and Bahtiyar Mahnut on February 4, 2010. Swiss authorities helped them settle in Canton of Jura. Historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files commented that Switzerland's grant of Asylum preserved the ObamaPresidency from political embarrassment, because all the Uyghurs had been offered a new home, except for Arkin Mahmud, and that the Swiss offer of asylum would complicate the habeas petitions of the four remaining Uyghur captives who had declined to agree to accept refugee status in Palau.
^Andy Worthington (2010-02-04). "Swiss Take Two Guantánamo Uighurs, Save Obama from Having to Do the Right Thing". Retrieved 2010-02-04. "Not mentioned publicly was the fact that, until Jura accepted the men’s asylum claims, one of them, Arkin Mahmud, appeared to stuck at Guantánamo, his only way out being to hope that the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the Uighurs’ case last year, would overturn last February’s appeals court ruling, and allow cleared prisoners who cannot be repatriated into the United States."mirror