April 27, 1966 |
Aïn Soltane, Saïda, Algeria
|Released||May 19, 2009
Lakhdar Boumediene, (Arabic: لخضر بومدين) a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was held in military custody in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba beginning in January 2002. Boumediene was the lead plaintiff in Boumediene v. Bush (2008), a U.S. Supreme Court decision that Guantanamo detainees and other foreign nationals have the right to file writs of habeas corpus in U.S. federal courts.
He and four other of the Algerian Six plaintiffs were released from Guantánamo on May 15, 2009 after a US Federal judge found that "the Bush administration relied on insufficient evidence to imprison them indefinitely as ‘enemy combatants.’" He now lives in Provence, France, with his wife and children.
|“||I lived in a nightmare for seven years. Even animals are treated better. ... My daughter does not recognize me. I didn’t see my wife for seven years. I lost everything. Who will give me these years back?||”|
— Lakhdar Boumediene
Born and raised in Algeria, as an adult Boumediene worked for various humanitarian causes. He worked for the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates. It also had an office in Sarajevo and, at the request of his employer, Boumediene moved with his family to Bosnia, where he served as director of humanitarian aid for children who had lost relatives during the Balkan conflicts. He became a Bosnian citizen in 1998.
In early October 2001, less than a month after al Qaeda's attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, intelligence analysts in the United States Embassy in Sarajevo became concerned that an increase in chatter was a clue that al Qaeda was planning an attack on the embassy there. At their request, Bosnia arrested Bensayah Belkacem, the man they believed had made dozens of phone calls to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and five acquaintances of his, including Boumediene. All six were Algerian-born residents of Bosnia, and five were Bosnian citizens; one had permanent residency status. They all worked for charities and non-profits.
In January 2002, the Supreme Court of Bosnia ruled that there was no evidence to hold the six men, and ordered the charges dropped and the men released. American forces, including troops who were part of a 3,000-man American peace-keeping contingent in Bosnia, were waiting for the six men upon their release from Bosnian custody. They immediately seized the six and transported them to the Guantánamo Bay detention camp on a US Navy base on Cuba. They were detained and interrogated without being charged.
In the summer of 2004, the Algerian Six filed suit against the US government with the help of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a team from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, challenging their detention without charges and claiming the protection of habeas corpus.
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Hunger strike and force-feeding
Boumediene went on a two-year hunger strike while imprisoned, because "no one would tell me why I was imprisoned". He was force fed twice a day by having a feeding tube inserted in his nose and down into his stomach. His lawyer, Stephen Oleskey, described the force feeding as follows:
- Twice a day he is strapped onto a chair at seven points. One side of his nose is broken, so they put it (the tube) in the other side … Sometimes it goes to his lung instead of his stomach. He can't say anything because he has the mask on: that's torture.
US Supreme Court case
In Boumediene v. Bush in October 2008, the US Supreme Court ruled in their favor, saying that the detainees and other foreign nationals had the right to file in federal courts under habeas corpus.
On November 20, 2008, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the release of Lakhdar Boumediene and four of the Algerian Six based on lack of sufficient evidence. The sixth detainee, Bensayah Belkacem, was recommended for continued detention but his case is under review.
Release to France
On May 15, 2009, Boumediene was transferred to France, where he has relatives. His wife and children have joined him and they have settled in Provence. He has had difficulty in getting employment, due to his lengthy imprisonment.
- Hunger strike
- Algerian Six
- Murat Kurnaz, German citizen imprisoned five years at Guantanamo and released
- "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2006-05-15.
- Jess Bravin (2008-11-21). "Judge Orders 5 Gitmo Inmates Released". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-01. mirror
- Lakhdar Boumediene (2012-01-07). "My Guantánamo Nightmare". The New York Times. p. SR9. Retrieved 2012-04-05. mirror
- Seema Jilani, M.D., "Algerians, freed from Guantanamo, still paying the price", McClatchy DC, 9 September 2009
- AFP (2009-01-22). "'Even the devil couldn't have created it'". Independent Online. Retrieved 2009-01-23. mirror
- , AP News
- "US sets free test case detainee". BBC News. 2009-05-15.
- "Guantanamo Detainee Released To Join Relatives In France". RTT News. 2009-05-15. Archived from the original on 2009-05-15.
- Ex-Detainee Describes Struggle for Exoneration
- Recently Released Gitmo Detainee Talks to ABC News
- Report on Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. (Boumediene)
- After 7 Years, Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo Kidnap Victims Andy Worthington November 25, 2008
- Judge Leon’s unclassified opinion
- OARDEC (21 September 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal - Boumediene, Lakhdar" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. p. 79. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-05. Retrieved 2011-01-11.