Feature

A case of mistaken identity – the detainee with no lawyer

Haroon Gul is an 33 year-old Afghan citizen who has been held without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay since June 2007. He has never had a defense attorney, despite his desperate attempts to find one. He simply fell through the net at Gitmo and was unrepresented for nine years.

Reprieve began representing him in June 2016, and filed a writ of habeas corpus challenging his detention on July 15 – his letter to Shelby, his Reprieve lawyer, is above.

Haroon is the victim of mistaken identity; mistaken for a local fighter of the same name. Haroon has never been a member of the Taliban nor al Qaeda; indeed he explicitly rejects extremist ideology. He has never held extreme views of any kind, has never engaged in any violence nor espoused violent beliefs.

Haroon grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan, after violence in Afghanistan forced his family to flee their home there. Despite the difficult environment of the camp, he managed to educate himself to college level, with an economics degree and fluency in four languages. He provided for his family by working as a trader in the local marketplace, selling bread and honey to other refugees.

Haroon had just managed to rise above his difficult circumstances – supporting his wife and small daughter as a successful trader – when he was seized by Afghan forces during a routine work trip to sell honey at a local market in Afghanistan. He was passed to the U.S. military and rendered to Guantanamo Bay in 2007.

Haroon has a wife, a 10 year-old daughter and a large, supportive family. He takes great pride in the education of his daughter, who is the top student in her school of 800 kids.

During his time at Guantanamo, Haroon has taken every opportunity to educate himself, studying art and learning fluent English. His determination to support his daughter’s education has motivated him to keep learning and preparing for the day he is released. He hopes to become a professional bee keeper and run his own honey bee farm.

 

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