76 Men Left in Guantánamo, as Yemeni Starts New Life in Italy, and Another Yemeni and the Last Tajik Go to Serbia

12.7.16

Tajik prisoner Muhammad Davliatov (aka Umar Abdulayev) in a photo from Guantanamo.I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please 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.

On July 10, the Pentagon announced that Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman (ISN 153), a 41-year old Yemeni who arrived at the prison in its first week of operations, on January 17, 2002 and was approved for release from Guantánamo six and a half years ago, had finally been freed, and given a new home in Italy. Two prisoners, both Tunisians, were previously transferred to Italy, in 2009, where they were briefly imprisoned before returning to Tunisia during the optimistic early days of the Arab Spring.

Suleiman — who, it should be stressed, will be a free man in Italy — was approved for release by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established shortly after taking office in January 2009, and that issued its final report in January 2010. He is the last Yemeni out of 126 men approved for release by the task force to be freed.

In addition, eleven Yemenis are left out of 30 approved for release by the task force but then placed in a sub-category of “conditional detention” — conditional on a perceived improvement in the security situation in Yemen. No indication was given as to how this would be decided, but what happened instead was that the entire US establishment agreed not to repatriate any Yemenis, and so the “conditional detention” group languished until the Obama administration began finding countries that would offer new homes to them, a process that only began last November and that, with Suleiman’s release, has led to 19 men being given new homes — in the UAE, Ghana, Oman, Montenegro and Saudi Arabia.

At the time of Suleiman’s release, three other men, from other countries, were still awaiting release based on the task force’s recommendations, and today, July 11, the Pentagon announced that one of the three — Muhammadi Davliatov, the last Tajik in the prison, who had been known in Guantánamo as Umar Abdulayev — had also also been freed, sent to start a new life in Serbia.

A second man was also sent to Serbia — Mansoor al-Zahari (aka Mansur Ahmad Saad al-Dayfi), a Yemeni who had been recommended for release last October by another review process, the Periodic Review Boards. This process was established in 2013 to review the cases of all the remaining prisoners not already approved for release or facing trials (with just ten men being in this latter category), and 26 men have so far been recommended for release by the PRBs. Al-Zahari is the eleventh to be freed.

The story of Fayiz Suleiman

Yemeni prisoner Fayiz Suleiman, in a grainy photo from Guantanamo.When I undertook preliminary research into the Guantánamo prisoners in 2006-07, I found little in the documentation released by the Pentagon as a result of FOIA lawsuits that provided much information about Fayiz Suleiman.

In an article in September 2010, I stated the following:

According to a summary of evidence at Guantánamo, Suleiman “identified himself as a trained imam in Jeddah,” and stated that various sheikhs “would frequent his facility to solicit money for other countries and to address jihad.” He added that the majority of the sheikhs’ talks “focused on Chechnya.” Although he was accused by unknown sources of training to make poisons at Kandahar airport and of being in Tora Bora, he maintained that “he had no military service and he had no desire to serve in such a capacity,” stated that he was “never trained on the use of weapons,” and “denied any connection with al-Qaeda or the Taliban.”

When WikiLeaks released classified military files on the prisoners in 2011, Suleiman emerged as, probably, a low-level Taliban foot soldier, although his file was thin. He was apparently seized crossing from Afghanistan to Pakistan, and had been escorted to the border by a relative of an Afghan who had extended hospitality to him in Kabul. It was noted that he “was arrested by Pakistani police shortly after he crossed the border,” and that then “[t]he police took him with a group of five other Arabs to the prison at Kohat, PK where they remained for approximately two weeks,” before being transferred to Kandahar and then Guantánamo. Unusually, no reason was given for his transfer to Guantánamo, suggesting that cursory interrogation in US custody in Afghanistan had yielded nothing that suggested he was of any significance whatsoever.

A claim that he was in Tora Bora, the site of a showdown between Al-Qaeda and Afghan ground troops working with the US, and that he met Osama bin Laden there, was made by Guantánamo’s most unreliable informant, Yasim Basardah, who also made an implausible claim that he “was trained to make poisons at the Kandahar Airport,” and that he told him “he could make a toxin from rotting meat that would poison people,” but that he, Basardah, “was not allowed to look at detainee’s notebook to see how that was done.”

In the Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg reported that Suleiman had never seen an attorney during his 14 years of detention, according to one of his lawyers of record, Jon Sands, an Arizona federal public defender. Sands explained, however, that “Suleiman recently asked to meet,” and that he had been “making plans to travel to the base to see him in August.” He added that he “did not believe Suleiman had any family ties in Italy,” but stated that it was “a good place for anyone. It’s a good place for him, and we hope he can find some peace after his detention at Guantánamo.”

He also said, “It’s better than many other locations, and maybe it’s part of the G-exit strategy” — a reference to President Obama’s ongoing efforts to close Guantánamo before he leaves office.

The story of Muhammadi Davliatov

The second man to be released, Muhammadi Davliatov (ISN 257), is 37 years old and was the last Tajik in Guantánamo, where he was known as Umar Abdulayev.

As I explained in an article in July 2009, Davliatov’s own account of his life and how he had ended up in US custody was included in a court submission for his habeas corpus hearing back in June 2009, in which he explained that “he fled the civil war in Tajikistan with his family in 1992, when he was 13 years old.” He also said that “they lived in northern Afghanistan with other Tajik refugees, and added that, in 1994, his father was shot and killed on the Tajik-Afghan border, while attempting to ‘investigate the situation’ in Tajikistan, having heard ‘pleas on the radio from the Tajik government, urging Tajik refugees to return home.’”

I also wrote:

For the next seven years, the rest of the family remained in Afghanistan, “relying upon aid from international refugee organizations,” but in early 2001, his mother took the whole family — Abdulayev and his two younger sisters and two younger brothers — to Pakistan, “in order to escape the escalating violence and unrest in Afghanistan.” They lived in “a government-sponsored refugee camp named Camp Babu,” near Peshawar, which “comprised mostly of families, and was principally for Afghan refugees.”

It was here, on November 25, 2001, that Abdulayev was seized by Pakistani police and handed over to Pakistani intelligence officials. In a gut-wrenching statement, Abdulayev said, “I never saw my family again, and to this day, I have not heard from them or been able to contact them.”

He also explained that he had been forced to copy “specific passages about weapons and explosives from books that the intelligence officials gave to me,” and said that, after about a month, he was told that he would be returned to his mother, but was taken instead to Kohat jail. From there he was flown, with 25 to 30 other men, to the US prison at Kandahar airport, where his ordeal in American custody began, and he was flown to Guantánamo in early February 2002.

At the time, Justice Department lawyers responded to Davliatov’s account by telling the judge looking at his habeas petition, Judge Reggie Walton, that they would “no longer defend his detention,” and that they wanted US diplomats “to arrange to repatriate him.”

There were two problems with this decision: firstly, it failed to allow Davliatov to have an opportunity to clear his name; and secondly, it indicated that the US was prepared to repatriate him, even though some of the eleven Tajiks previously repatriated from Guantánamo had been treated appallingly, and Davliatov had no desire to return home. In court filings, as Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald explained, Abdulayev stated that he was visited at Guantánamo by Tajik intelligence agents who made him “a sinister offer: Spy on Muslim radicals in the former Soviet Republic in exchange for his release.” When he refused, he said, “the agents threatened retribution.”

Back in July 2009, one of his lawyers, Matthew O’Hara, explained, “he’s told us he’d rather stay another seven years in Guantánamo than go back to Tajikistan.” Ironically, it is now almost exactly seven years to the day since that comment, and Davliatov has only just been freed.

Explaining what has happened in the last seven years, his lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights stated, in a press release, that he had had to “obtain a court injunction against his transfer to Tajikistan,” and that the Obama administration had “obtained a stay of his legal case based on repeated representations to the court that his detention was no longer at issue and he would be released expeditiously.” However, as CCR added, the government “did not transfer him.”

Instead, Davliatov “was left to rot at Guantánamo.” His lawyers stated that, “[h]aving hindered his original legal challenge, the Obama administration made no meaningful efforts to transfer him for several years,” and, as a result, in November 2015, the Center for Constitutional Rights, together with Matthew J. O’Hara, Davliatov’s lead counsel at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP and Andy Smith at Reed Smith LLP – who have represented him since 2007 – “filed a new habeas corpus challenge to his ongoing indefinite detention,” in which Davliatov “asked the court to order his release on the ground that his continuing detention was arbitrary and no longer served any ostensible purpose.”

CCR noted that it “had filed a similar challenge on behalf of Algerian detainee Djamel Ameziane in 2013,” and as with Ameziane’s case, “renewed litigation finally prompted the administration to act, albeit, according to his counsel, not out of compassion for Davliatov but, once again, to avoid an adverse court ruling in his case.”

Responding to news of his release, CCR Senior Staff Attorney J. Wells Dixon said, “We are happy that Mr. Davliatov’s Guantánamo nightmare is finally over, and we wish him well as he begins the slow process of rebuilding his life. But the lengths to which the Obama administration went to avoid a court ruling in this case are shameful. Davliatov never should have been brought to Guantánamo, and by the government’s own admission he should have been released six years ago. The administration’s actions are inconsistent with its stated desire to close Guantánamo.”

Matthew J. O’Hara said, “This case represents one of the rare instances in which the United States was not able to return a Guantánamo prisoner to his native country over his objection when he feared for his life there. A preliminary injunction prevented Muhammadi’s involuntary return to Tajikistan in the fall of 2008. By the time the D.C. Circuit later vacated that injunction, Tajikistan was no longer willing to accept Muhammadi. It is a testament to Muhammadi’s strength and determination not to be involuntarily repatriated to Tajikistan that today he is being resettled in Europe as a free man.”

Andy Moss said, “I am elated that Muhammadi will finally be allowed the opportunities he has been arbitrarily denied by our nation since 2002. Like each of the men imprisoned at Guantánamo who have been released, Muhammadi faces formidable personal challenges in rebuilding his life after 14 years as a prisoner without charge, hope, or human dignity. I am grateful to the Serbian people for offering Muhammadi asylum, and I hope everyone will remain patient with and supportive of Muhammadi as he builds a new life for himself and recovers from his long, brutal, and unlawful imprisonment. Knowing him, I believe he will eventually succeed.”

The story of Mansoor al-Zahari

Mansoor-al-Zahari at Guantanamo, in a photo included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.I discussed the story of Mansoor al-Zahari (ISN 441) at the time of his Periodic Review Board in September 2015, when he was 36 years old, and described how he had probably been a low-level foot soldier of the Taliban who, in US custody, had become an enthusiastic fan of American culture, becoming a fan of Taylor Swift, Shakira, Game of Thrones (although he felt there was too much bloodshed), US sitcoms, Christopher Nolan movies and Little House on the Prairie, which “remind[ed] him of his very rural home with few modern conveniences.”

Although angry in his early years at Guantánamo, he had become “a model detainee from the government’s perspective,” according to his lawyer, federal defender Carlos Warner, and it was not surprising when, last October, he was recommended for release. It is now to be hoped — as it is for the other men freed — that Serbia will be a welcoming environment for them, and that their family members will be able to visit them.

With the release of Fayiz Suleiman, Muhammadi Davliatov and Mansoor al-Zahari, 76 men are still held at Guantánamo, and 28 of those men have been approved for release — 13 by the task force, and 15 others through the Periodic Review Boards.

Of the 28 prisoners still held who have been approved for release, the Obama administration has said that it intends to release the majority — 20 more, according to reports in May — by the end of July.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009 (out of the 532 released by President Bush), and the 158 prisoners released from February 2009 to June 2016 (by President Obama), whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Filesand for the stories of the other 390 prisoners released by President Bush, see my archive of articles based on the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (herehere and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis1 Mauritanian1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; 13 Afghans (here and here); 3 British residents10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (herehere and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; 2 Algerians; 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan), repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 —1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani); 4 Uighurs to Bermuda; 1 Iraqi; 3 Saudis (here and here); August 2009 — 1 Afghan (Mohamed Jawad); 2 Syrians to Portugal; September 2009 — 1 Yemeni; 2 Uzbeks to Ireland (here and here); October 2009 — 1 Kuwaiti, 1 prisoner of undisclosed nationality to Belgium; 6 Uighurs to Palau; November 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian to France, 1 unidentified Palestinian to Hungary, 2 Tunisians to Italian custody; December 2009 — 1 Kuwaiti (Fouad al-Rabiah); 2 Somalis4 Afghans6 Yemenis; January 2010 — 2 Algerians, 1 Uzbek to Switzerland1 Egyptian1 Azerbaijani and 1 Tunisian to Slovakia; February 2010 — 1 Egyptian, 1 Libyan, 1 Tunisian to Albania1 Palestinian to Spain; March 2010 — 1 Libyan, 2 unidentified prisoners to Georgia, 2 Uighurs to Switzerland; May 2010 — 1 Syrian to Bulgaria, 1 Yemeni to Spain; July 2010 — 1 Yemeni (Mohammed Hassan Odaini); 1 Algerian1 Syrian to Cape Verde, 1 Uzbek to Latvia, 1 unidentified Afghan to Spain; September 2010 — 1 Palestinian, 1 Syrian to Germany; January 2011 — 1 Algerian; April 2012 — 2 Uighurs to El Salvador; July 2012 — 1 Sudanese; September 2012 — 1 Canadian (Omar Khadr) to ongoing imprisonment in Canada; August 2013 — 2 Algerians; December 2013 — 2 Algerians2 Saudis2 Sudanese3 Uighurs to Slovakia; March 2014 — 1 Algerian (Ahmed Belbacha); May 2014 — 5 Afghans to Qatar (in a prisoner swap for US PoW Bowe Bergdahl); November 2014 — 1 Kuwaiti (Fawzi al-Odah); 3 Yemenis to Georgia, 1 Yemeni and 1 Tunisian to Slovakia, and 1 Saudi; December 2014 — 4 Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian to Uruguay4 Afghans2 Tunisians and 3 Yemenis to Kazakhstan; January 2015 — 4 Yemenis to Oman, 1 Yemeni to Estonia; June 2015 — 6 Yemenis to Oman; September 2015 — 1 Moroccan and 1 Saudi; October 2015 — 1 Mauritanian and 1 British resident (Shaker Aamer); November 2015 — 5 Yemenis to the United Arab Emirates; January 2016 — 2 Yemenis to Ghana; 1 Kuwaiti (Fayiz al-Kandari) and 1 Saudi; 10 Yemenis to Oman1 Egyptian to Bosnia and 1 Yemeni to Montenegro; April 2016 — 2 Libyans to Senegal; 9 Yemenis to Saudi Arabia; June 2016 — 1 Yemeni to Montenegro.

12 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    My latest article, cross-posted from http://www.closeguantanamo.org, looking at the stories of the three men just freed from ‪#‎Guantanamo‬ – one sent to Italy, who had never even seen a lawyer, and two to Serbia, including Muhammadi Davliatov (pictured), the last Tajik in the prison, who was specifically told seven years ago that the US was intending to release him. 76 men are now still held in Guantanamo, and 28 of those men have been approved for release.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Posting late, my friends. I was out at dinner with my family, with Joanne MacInnes and her family, Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture and his family, and Shaker Aamer! A wonderfully inspiring evening – and great also to get the news, towards the end of the evening, that the enemies of democracy within the Parliamentary Labour Party have finally accepted that there was no way they could get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Thanks Andy as always for your excellent updates

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    And thanks for the kind words and support, Carol.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Just updated, the definitive prisoner list on the Close Guantanamo website: http://www.closeguantanamo.org/Prisoners

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    When Andy Moss, one of Muhammad’s lawyers, liked this, I wrote:

    Hey, Andy, so good to get the news finally. I think we were probably in touch for the first time seven years ago, when Muhammadi/Umar was supposed to have been freed.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Andy Moss wrote`:

    Hey Andy – we are really excited for him. I think you’re right about the timing. Carol Rosenberg did the math and says this is 7 years and a couple of days from when the government first announced he could be released.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, that really demonstrates shocking neglect of the importance of justice and fairness on the Obama administration’s part, Andy – and with a hefty dose of the blame going, as usual, to the Justice Department, whose role as active defenders of Guantanamo isn’t recognised widely enough. Do say hello to Muhammadi from me.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Hanan Baghdadi wrote:

    Praying they have a good life now, and that they rest are freed.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Hanan. Well, we continue to move in the right direction, at least. Another man was approved for release today, so now 29 of the remaining 76 men have been approved for release, and more will follow through the Periodic Review Boards.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    For further information about Muhammadi Davliatov’s story, see this submission by Matthew O’Hara on January 20 this year, unclassified on June 27: http://ccrjustice.org/sites/default/files/attach/2016/06/2016-01-20_Davliatov_ExhibitA_OHaraDevcl_SuppoMotionforJudgment.pdf

    In it, O’Hara explains how he has regularly followed news reports about Tajikistan, and, in May 2010, found an RFE/RL article entitled, “The story of the last Guantanamo Tajik,” which “reported that two elderly residents of Panj, Tajikistan claimed that Petitioner was their son, named Muhammadi Davliatov, and not Umar Abdulayev. The article further reported that this couple had written to the President of Tajikistan, spoken with the Tajik Interior Ministry and local police officials in Panj, and communicated with the Embassy of Tajikistan in the United States concerning the man they believed to be their son who was imprisoned at Guantanamo.”

    The next paragraph of O’Hara’s submission has been redacted by US censors, but in the next paragraph he states, “On November 19, 2013, I met with Ambassador Nuriddin T. Shamsov, Ambassador of Tajikistan to the United States, at the Embassy of Tajikistan in Washington, D.C. concerning Petitioner. Ambassador Shamsov confirmed to me that what the United States government had informed me in January 2011 – namely that Tajikistan no longer considered Petitioner to be a citizen of that country. Ambassador Shamsov informed me that Petitioner is no longer a citizen ofTajikistan because under Tajik law, any Tajik who is outside the country for more than five years without presenting himself to a Tajik embassy or consulate abroad loses his citizenship.”

    In other passages subjected to US government redactions, O’Hara challenged government assertions that “no country ha[d] accepted him for resettlement … because of his longstanding ‘concealment of his identity,'” adding that, “to the best of my knowledge, this assertion is incorrect.” It also became clear in O’Hara’s submission that Davliatov had been one of a number of prisoners for whom the US government had been seeking release in the Czech Republic, but that plan had fallen through. In contrast to US claims, O’Hara explained that the Czechs “did not accept Petitioner (or anyone else from Guantanamo) not because of issues related to his identity but because of bureaucratic obstacles imposed [several words redacted] by the Pentagon.”

    He also cited a report by Reuters, Charles Levinson and David Rohde’s “Special Report: Pentagon thwarts Obama’s effort to close Guantanamo,” dated December 29, 2015, which I wrote about here, and in which it was stated:

    In autumn this year, a foreign government was invited to Guantanamo to interview eight detainees for possible transfer — a process that can take several days. General Kelly’s command, which oversees Guantanamo, instituted a new policy, suddenly banning the delegation from spending the night at the detention center, according to administration officials. (Officials declined to identify countries involved in transfer negotiations out of concern that doing so would jeopardize the process.) As a result, the delegation was forced to commute 90 minutes by plane each morning and afternoon from Miami, adding tens of thousands of dollars in government plane bills to U.S. taxpayers. In December, the country decided to take no detainees.

    At the time, it was not known that the country being discussed was the Czech Republic, or that Davliatov was one of the men being considered for transfer there.

    O’Hara also stated, “Mr. Davliatov has explained to me his reasons for having concealed his identity, which were above all to try to protect his family. As related in other papers filed in this Court, Mr. Davliatov explained how he had been visited at Guantanamo on several occasions in earlier years by agents ofthe government of Tajikistan, who threatened him with torture and death upon his return to their country. These threats exacerbated Mr. Davliatov’s concerns for his family’s well-being in Tajikistan and made him concerned that the Tajik government would persecute his family. He has explained that it was more important to him to continue to do everything possible to protect his family above all else.”

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Readers may also be interested in the most recent version of Muhammadi Davliatov’s story, from the CCR website, which is presumably more accurate than what was known publicly back in 2009:

    Tajikistan became an independent nation in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but a civil war quickly embroiled the country. Davliatov and members of his family fled across the border into northeastern Afghanistan in 1992 to escape the fighting, but later returned home after some months later when they determined that the area around their hometown of Panj, just across the Panj River from Afghanistan, had calmed down enough for them to return safely. Davliatov also returned home because one of his sisters had remained in hiding in Tajikistan rather than flee with the rest of their family.

    In 1997, a tenuous peace was negotiated between the warring factions in Tajikistan, ending the civil war. In the late 1990s, Davliatov became an employee of a Tajik government ministry responsible for dealing with emergencies such as national disasters; that ministry was headed by the person who led the military opposition to the government during the 1992-1997 civil war and the political opposition to the ruling faction of the Tajik government thereafter.

    In early 2001, Davliatov abandoned his government position at the ministry and left Tajikistan. He traveled to Afghanistan to see if there were better opportunities for him there, but soon found himself unable to return to Tajikistan. After the United States invaded and began bombing Afghanistan in October 2001, Davliatov fled to Pakistan with thousands of other refugees. He fled to Pakistan rather than return to Tajikistan because the Tajik government, with the assistance of Russian troops, had firmly shut the border. Moreover, as a member of the political opposition who was associated with its leader, it was also too dangerous for him to return to Tajikistan.

    A month later, he was seized at the refugee camp.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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