My Ninth Successive US Visit – for Events Marking the 17th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo


Close Guantanamo co-founder Andy Worthington marks 6,200 days of Guantanamo's existence on January 1, 2019.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.


I wrote the following article (as “Close Guantánamo Events Marking the 17th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo”) 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.

As 2019 began, the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay marked a shameful milestone. January 1 was the 6,200th day of operations at the prison, and we marked the occasion with the latest stage of our ongoing photo campaign, in which supporters take photos with posters showing how long Guantánamo has been open and urging Donald Trump to close it, based on our Gitmo Clock project, which counts in real time how long the prison has been open.

In seven days’ time, the prison will reach another appalling milestone: the 17th anniversary of its opening. This is on January 11, and to mark the occasion Close Guantánamo’s co-founders, the Washington, D.C.-based attorney Tom Wilner and the London-based journalist Andy Worthington (making his 9th annual visit for protest and events on and around the anniversary) will be taking part in a panel discussion at the New America think-tank, and will also be part of an annual vigil outside the White House organized by and attended by representatives of a dozen rights groups. Andy is also discussing Guantánamo in New York, two days after the anniversary, and both Andy and Tom are available for media interviews, and for further events, throughout the duration of Andy’s visit, from January 7-17.

Details of the events are below:

Friday January 11, 12.15 pm-1.45 pm: Seventeen Years of Guantánamo
New America, 740 15th St. NW #900, Washington, D.C. 20005

Tom Wilner and Andy Worthington, with Laura Pitter, the interim deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas program, discuss the prison’s present and future, in a panel discussion moderated by New America’s David Sterman, asking, “What will happen to the prison and its detainees in the remaining years of the Trump administration? Will anyone else be released? Will the prison ever close?”
See the event page here, and please RSVP if you’re coming along.

Friday January 11, 2.30-4pm: Rally to Close Guantánamo – Rule of Law, Not Rule of Trump
Outside the White House, Lafayette Square, 1608 H St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20006

Andy Worthington joins speakers from 12 rights organizations at the annual vigil outside the White House calling for the closure of Guantánamo: Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Close Guantánamo, CODEPINK: Women For Peace, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Defending Rights & Dissent, Justice for Muslims Collective, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC), Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Witness Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait.
See the event page on Facebook here.

Please also check out Witness Against Torture’s page about their Fast for Justice, a week of events in Washington, D.C. involving fasting and political actions.

Sunday January 13, 5-7pm: Andy Worthington Talks at Revolution Books NY
Revolution Books, 437 Malcolm X Boulevard/Lenox Ave (at 132nd Street), New York 10037

As Revolution Books states, “Andy Worthington, the British journalist who has covered the men imprisoned in the US torture camp at Guantánamo since 2006, speaks on the state of the prison under Trump; the 40 men who are still held, and on what released prisoners have encountered as they’ve been scattered across the world. Andy, a member of The Four Fathers, may sing for us. Q&A to follow.”
See the event page on Facebook here.

* * * * *

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 music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in 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), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

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, The Complete Guantánamo Files, 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.

26 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, promoting my imminent visit to the US to call for the closure of Guantanamo on and around the anniversary of its opening – on January 11. This will be my ninth successive January visit, and, shamefully, on the anniversary this year, Guantanamo will have been open for 17 long and disgraceful years.

    On the day I’ll be taking part in a panel discussion at New America with Tom Wilner, with whom I co-founded the Close Guantanamo campaign seven years ago, and Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch, followed by a vigil outside the White House with representatives of 12 rights groups including Amnesty international USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait, as well as Close Guantanamo of course. Two days later, on January 13, I’ll be giving a talk about Guantanamo at Revolution Books in Harlem.

    If you’re in Washington, D.C. or New York, I hope to see you! And do get in touch if you want to interview me, or if you can organise any other events (and I’m also up for playing a few songs if the opportunity arises and a guitar can be found!)

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    That’s very cool that you’re on the ninth visit! Bravo!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Although it would be better not to have to visit, Tashi, if, one of these days, the US managed to actually do the right thing and close this Muslim-imprisoning abomination down!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    True, Andy, but very cool that you haven’t given up, despite the endless years of abomination. I appreciate your tenacity.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    🙂 Tashi!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Barbara Bendzunas wrote:

    Andy, how did your interest in Guantanamo begin?

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s a big question, Barbara! It was a collision between an interest I always had in tackling injustice, and my specific outrage at the US so fundamentally betraying its claim to be a country founded on the rule of law, and that respects the rule of law, by running a torture prison for foreign-born Muslims, and refusing even to tell the world who it was holding. That was in 2005, when I began researching who was held, and in the spring of 2006, when the government lost a FOIA lawsuit and had to finally release the names and nationalities of the men it had been holding for over four years, and 8,000 pages on supporting documents, I was in place to, as it happened, be the person who drew it all together to attempt to explain who was actually held at Guantanamo, and why it was such a terrible and counter-productive creation.

    It does feel as though it was something of a calling. And the reason I stick with it, after all this time, is because those who set it up, and those who still maintain it, simply cannot be allowed to win.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    And check this out – the statement that Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture wrote for the coming anniversary:

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Rushan Abbas wrote:

    Dear Andy, you have been advocating tirelessly on this case. Thank you for what you do. However, the horrendous atrocity Uyghur people are facing today is unimaginable. Compare Guantanamo Bay to the regular ordinary Uyghur people’s lives in East Turkistan, not talking about the cell blocks there but even the iguanas in GTMO have far more rights than the Uyghur people living at large with complete surveillance at the police state. No, I’m not comparing the concentration camps here. Please raise awareness and help those millions of innocent Uyghur people.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the reminder, Rushan. Good to hear from you. I’ve shared posts about the Uyghurs’ plight on Facebook and on Twitter, and will try to make sure that I continue to do so.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Medea Benjamin wrote:

    Look forward to seeing you Andy!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Likewise, Medea!

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Patricia Sheerin-Richman wrote:

    Great that you’re doing this, Andy. Please give our (GJC) greetings to the US activists. Guantánamo Justice Campaign will be holding our annual vigil in Trafalgar Square on 11th.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    I’ll certainly send greetings from the GJC, Patricia – and I hope your vigil goes well!

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Meena Sharma wrote:

    Wishing you all the best, Andy!

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Meena. Great to hear from you.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Lindis Percy wrote:

    Another WELL DONE Andy! and please take love and solidarity with you to pass round from me xxx

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Will do, Lindis. Great to hear from you!

  19. Tom says...

    Sorry I won’t be able to hopefully meet you in person. But have a great trip.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    It would be nice to meet one of these days, Tom, but in the meantime I value our correspondence here. Only a few people regularly communicate with me on my website; most interactions take place on Facebook.

  21. Tom says...

    Hi Andy,

    As you’re over here, a suggestion. Consider the growing connections between the protests in Paris, here due to the govt. shutdown, and soon in the UK (if there’s no Brexit deal). In all three, it’s many of the same things:

    The price of austerity
    The shutdown continues here. What are more Democrats doing? Running for President or hyping books.
    Macron says he’ll implement “reforms”. Not much so far that’s a real improvement.
    Are May and her Cabinet still making “emergency plans” in case there are runs on stores and the banks? Here, legally Trump could implement a new “National Emergency”. They’re set up to give the President the maximum legal power w/out court challenges. For you, who would run the same thing? May and the Home Secretary? The point being this wouldn’t be some plot twist from a “Spooks” episode. How would millions react to seeing the military on the streets for a potentially long period of time? The free press stops. All power comes thru 10 Downing St. The govt determines when and if the “emergency” stops.

    Obviously I don’t know all of your sources. But protect yourself.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Tom. You are correct to draw connections between what is happening in France, the US and the UK, and to see hints of state repression on the streets, in ways that would have been unthinkable in even the quite recent past. I’m not sure how even to respond, as I find the possibilities for the near future in my home country to be very dark indeed, even more so than in Trump’s America, and that’s saying something of course! All I really know is that, one way or another, the only way forward for British civil society is for the government to fall, and for Brexit to be stopped. Unfortunately, the route to that outcome still remains as obscure as ever.

  23. Tom says...

    Just heard that Brexit was voted down. Tomorrow a vote of confidence. Then a new election?

    Also saw you here on C-SPAN at a forum in Washington. Nicely done.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Glad you saw the C-SPAN panel, Tom. I’ve heard from a few people who saw it, but hadn’t known about it beforehand. I understand it has quite a reach, so hopefully it will help to get Guantanamo back into public awareness.
    As for Brexit, who knows what happens now? It’s honestly like having had a permanent migraine for the last two and half years since that wretched and unjustifiable referendum took place. I’m back on Friday morning, so once I’ve tussled with jet lag I suppose I’ll have to deal with the reality of it. The truth? Brexit is so horrible that I’m thinking I’d rather stay here in Trump’s America than have to fly home to be dropped one more into its moronic turmoil.

  25. Tom says...

    Watching from here, are more and more people get desperate as we get closer to 3/29? Saw part of Monday’s Question Time. Hilary Benn asked May about putting 3,000 troops on “standby” when the deadline happens. Will they be authorized to shoot people if necessary? May completely sidestepped the question.

    In a way, this is like the govt. shutdown here. For a long time it’s almost considered second nature that this is normal. Now the ulgy reality of it continues to get worse. By 3/1st, one benefit that I’m on might stop all together. This alone will affect 60 million people.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, there are certainly similarities, Tom, although different motivations. Trump is having a tantrum, but behind him are some particularly unpleasant Republicans who, presumably, want the federal government to collapse, because they’re obsessed with destroying public services, but who haven’t really thought through how many people would be affected. Yesterday I saw a tweet from a goverment-employed worker unable to meet his mortgage and car payments, but who is expected to go to work and to continue to not be paid, or he’ll be sacked. Similar stories are obviously playing out across the US, and I expect Trump’s popularity to continue plummeting as a result, which is the only good news in this whole sad situation. However, there are also other impacts not as readily noticed. On Facebook yesterday, a friend indicated that the master contract of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is set to expire at midnight on February 28, which would lead to 1.2m evictions of mostly disabled and elderly households starting the day after. Then there’s the benefit you’re talking about, affecting 60m people.

    In the UK, we could pull ourselves back from the brink of disaster if there was a willingness to do so on the part of MPs, but they’re still putting their job security and various factional party loyalties before the future of the nation. I can’t see how we can pull ourselves back from the brink, but we desperately need to do so, or questions like Hilary Benn’s may well receive the most horrible answer – that the government truly does envisage curfews and the army on the streets, as we run out of food and essential medicines and who knows what else, and is prepared to go ahead with that almost unthinkably idiotic scenario because “the will of the people” – that’s 37% of the people – must be obeyed, rather than the people being told by their elected representatives that it’s simply not possible to do so without catastrophic effects.

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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