Video: On Al Jazeera, I Discuss Majid Khan’s Release from Guantánamo, and the Urgent Need for 20 Other Men Approved for Release to Be Freed


Andy Worthington discussing the release from Guantánamo of Majid Khan — and the urgent need for 20 other men approved for release also to be freed — on Al Jazeera News on February 2, 2023.

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Last week, I was delighted to be invited to discuss Guantánamo on Al Jazeera News, in response to the release, in Belize, of Majid Khan, whose sentence for terrorism-related activities came to an end nearly a year ago. A Pakistani national, Khan is the first “high-value detainee” to be freed from Guantánamo, and the first of the six prisoners freed by President Biden to be resettled in a third country.

It was my first visit to Al Jazeera’s London studios for many years — since before they moved to The Shard, in fact — and it was a real pleasure to be interviewed in person, rather than by Zoom, as so many interviews are these days. Being live on air in a studio has much more of a buzz, and a sense of urgency about it than a Zoom call, and I was initially quite shocked to be told how rare studio interviews are these days, since the Covid lockdowns, until I recalled quite how many interviews I’ve seen, across so many news channels, of people in their spare rooms or located in front of strategically arranged bookcases.

My interview — with Lauren Taylor — is posted below, on my YouTube channel, and I hope that you have time to watch it (it’s just three and a half minutes), and that you’ll share it if you find it useful.

It is, of course, great news that Majid Khan — who was always thoroughly remorseful about his involvement with terrorism, and who also cooperated fully with the authorities, despite being persistently tortured in CIA “black sites” — has been freed, as I told Al Jazeera, although I was particularly concerned to highlight the totally unjust situation whereby 20 other men, also approved for release but never even charged with a crime, are still held — and in some cases have been waiting much longer than the eleven months that Khan had to wait to be freed after his sentence ended.

Even more alarmingly, these 20 men have no idea when, if ever, they will be freed, because, unlike Majid Khan, the recommendations for their release were purely administrative, and have no legal weight; in other words, unlike Khan, who petitioned a US court last June to urge a judge to order his release, these 20 men cannot ask a judge to help them at all.

As his lawyers explained in that hearing, while Majid Khan could call on the courts, the release of these 20 men is dependent on the “discretion and grace” of the Biden administration, which is clearly no substitute for the law, as it removes any sense of urgency from the government’s negotiations with the men’s home countries, or, as with Khan, with third countries that must be found that are prepared to offer them a new home. This is the case for a least half of the 20 men, mostly Yemenis, who cannot be repatriated because provisions in the annual National Defense Authorization Act — added by Republicans when Barack Obama was president, and renewed every year — prevent it.

Until they are freed, the message the US government is sending to these 20 men, and to the world, is that it is easier to resettle from Guantánamo someone convicted of terrorism but demonstrably remorseful than it is to resettle someone never charged with a crime at all.

For my more detailed article about Majid Khan’s release, and the plight of the 20 men also approved for release but not freed, see Majid Khan Released From Guantánamo to New Life in Belize; 20 Others Approved for Release But Still Held Must Now Be Prioritized by Biden.

What you can do

To get involved, please take a photo with the Close Guantánamo campaign’s poster marking 7,700 days of Guantánamo’s existence —tomorrow, February 9 — and send it to

We received over 150 photos for the poster marking the 21st anniversary of Guantánamo’s opening a month ago, which you can see here and here, and, while we don’t expect to replicate that number, I’ll be doing what I can not only to publicize this milestone by sharing the photos on our website and on social media, but also by highlighting how long these 20 men have been waiting for their release. You can also help by sharing the Facebook posts from the Close Guantánamo page and also by sharing the tweets that I’ll be posting on my account. Please also feel free to share the hashtag #FreeTheGuantanamo20.

If you’re in London next Wednesday, February 15, you can also join a vigil outside Parliament from 1-3pm, organized by the UK Guantánamo Network (consisting of numerous Amnesty International groups, Close Guantánamo and others), when we’ll be highlighting the plight of these 20 men, as we will also be doing at future vigils on March 8 and April 5. And if you’re in the Washington, D.C. area, or anywhere else in the US, or anywhere else around the world, you can also hold your own vigils on those dates, coordinating our efforts for greater impact, and use the #FreeTheGuantanamo20 poster that I made in the run-up to the 21st anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo.

Feel free to contact me for any further information.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), 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 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 you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the 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, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the struggle for housing justice — and against environmental destruction — 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.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, featuring the video of my recent interview on Al Jazeera about the release from Guantanamo of Majid Khan, who has been resettled in Belize, almost eleven months after his terrorism-related sentence came to an end.

    I was also pleased to have had the opportunity to highlight how 20 other men, also approved for release, are still held, and to explain how unacceptable this is, and that it is because their approval for release came about through purely administrative review processes that, shamefully, have no legal weight.

    I’m also asking people to send in a photo with the latest Gitmo Clock poster marking 7,700 days of Guantanamo’s existence tomorrow (Feb. 9), when I’ll be making available details of quite how long it has been since these 20 men were approved for release.

    The poster’s here:
    Please send your photos to
    And see all 2023’s photos to date here:
    and here:

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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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