Reprieve calls on President Obama to bring Nabil Hadjarab home to France

December 1, 2009

Reprieve congratulates France on the resettlement of Saber Lahmar and calls on President Obama to bring home French resident and son of French veteran Nabil Hadjarab.

The release of Saber Lahmar from Guantánamo Bay to France is a cause for celebration – President Sarkozy and the French people deserve congratulations for their compassion. France has consistently opposed the Guantánamo prison. By welcoming Mr Lahmar, France has shown him more human decency than he saw in years at the hands of US authorities.

But France’s historic role in the closure of Guantánamo is not yet complete. President Obama’s Guantánamo team has apparently left out, in its discussions with France, the single person most appropriate for French resettlement: Nabil Hadjarab.

Nabil Hadjarab, the son of a French veteran, spent much of his childhood in French schools in Lyon. His closest living family are French citizens. Yet, despite having been cleared for release since 2007, he remains stranded in Guantánamo, pleading to return to the one place that feels like home to him: France.

Cori Crider, a Legal Director at Reprieve and Nabil’s attorney, said:

“Closing Guantánamo means releasing men to places where their ties run deepest—who better for France than the son of a harki? Nabil’s father, Said, served France bravely in the Algerian war—a war all France knows exacted a steep price for every colonial veteran. President Sarkozy has long acknowledged France’s debt to the harkis. Despite Nabil’s obvious French links, the Obama administration has apparently never approached France about Nabil. This should be corrected at once.”

Reprieve asks the Obama administration, as a matter of urgency, to commence negotiations with the French for the release of Mr. Hadjarab.

Cori Crider said

“Throughout the long hard years in Guantánamo, Nabil has shown remarkable dignity and patience. Yet he thinks of little else but his beloved France and his longing to return. Like his father, uncle and grandfather before him, Nabil will serve France with great loyalty and honour. France will find no prouder citizen than Nabil Hadjarab— but he cannot leave Guantánamo for France unless the Obama administration seeks to send him there.”

About Nabil Hadjarab:

Cleared for release under the Bush administration, Nabil is a kind and gentle man whose comportment in Guantánamo has been beyond reproach. Guantánamo guards have described him as a keen footballer, an “amazing” sketch artist, and an “all-around sweet guy.”

Nabil is easily the most natural candidate for resettlement in France left in Guantánamo. He grew up there, and his most treasured childhood memories are of his foster family in Lyon. His family still lives in France and has pledged the support he would need to rebuild his life after seven years of unlawful detention. Nabil’s uncle is a veteran of the Algerian war, a ‘Harki’ who fought against his own people for the French army in the name of liberte, egalite and fraternite. His uncle is a proud French citizen who desperately wants his nephew to be returned home safely.

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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