Journalism in the Public Interest

Gitmo Detainee’s Body Being Held in Secure, Undisclosed Location

The body of Adnan Latif, the Guantanamo detainee who died last month, has not yet been sent back to his home country, Yemen. And it’s not clear when it will be or where it is now.


This undated handout photo provided by Marc Falkoff, an attorney representing Adnan Latif, shows Latif, the Guantanamo prisoner who was found unconscious in his cell on Sept. 8. 2012 and later declared dead at a hospital on the U.S. base in Cuba. (Courtesy of Marc Falkoff/AP Photo)

Update (11/29): A military medical examiner has ruled Latif's death a suicide. According to the New York Times, he died from an overdose of psychiatric drugs. The investigation into how Latif obtained a lethal amount of medication is still ongoing. The Times also says Latif's body is now frozen, at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany. A Yemeni official said that Latif's remains would be returned to Yemen "in the upcoming days."

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif had been at Guantanamo for nearly 11 years when he died last month, despite being recommended for release many times. But even in death, his travails aren't over. His body hasn't been sent back to his home country of Yemen, and it's no longer at Gitmo.

It's being held in an undisclosed location.

"Mr. Latif's remains are being handled with the utmost care and respect by medical professionals and are being maintained in an appropriate facility designed to best facilitate preservation," said a Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale. "His remains are no longer at JTF-Guantanamo Bay."

Lt. Col. Breasseale said the U.S. is responding to Yemen's "wishes that we maintain the remains until a time when they are prepared to receive them."

A Yemeni official said his government "will not accept the remains until we get an official autopsy and an investigation report. We just want to know what happened." The official, who declined to be named, also said that the government was in touch with Latif's family.

The Joint Task Force at Guantanamo says it has conducted an autopsy and opened an investigation into the death, but has not yet announced a cause of death. According to the military's initial statement, Latif was found unconscious in his cell on Sept. 8 and could not be revived by medical staff.

As we laid out in a timeline last week, Latif was never alleged to be a high-level terror suspect. In 2010, he successfully challenged his detention in federal court only to have the decision overturned on appeal. Latif was also recommended for transfer out of Guantanamo by the military several times, beginning as far back as 2004.

Eight other detainees have died in Guantanamo, several by apparent suicide; another Yemeni died in 2009 and according to local news reports, his body was repatriated within days. Breasseale, the Defense spokesman, said that "there have been delays before" in repatriating remains, but would not give further details.

Latif's lawyers say he was mentally unstable, and attempted suicide on several occasions. They have also said that he did not receive adequate medical attention.

Latif's father, Farhan Abdul Latif, gave an interview to the Emerati publication The National last month in which he said, "This case is far from over. We are holding US President Barack Obama responsible for the killing of my beloved son."

Latif's Guantanamo saga began in 2002, when he was among the first detainees to arrive at the prison. He had been captured along the border of Afghanistan by Pakistani police and turned over to the U.S. He said he was traveling to Pakistan in search of medical care; the U.S. says he was going for military training. A federal judge ruled in 2010 that the government could not prove his connection to Al Qaeda or the Taliban, though that decision was reversed a year later by an appeals court.

One factor complicating a potential release was his Yemeni citizenship. Following the Christmas Day bombing attempt in 2009, a plot that originated in Yemen, the Obama administration announced a moratorium on detainee transfers to the country due to security concerns.

Many of the Yemenis who remain at Guantanamo are in limbo because of that ban. The State Department recently released a list of 55 detainees approved for transfer. By human rights lawyers' counts, at least 26 of those are Yemenis. The government has previously indicated that there is a separate group of 30 Yemenis being held at Guantanamo who the government says may be released if and when the other 26 leave.

Yemen's President, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took office earlier this year, spoke about Guantanamo in a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last week. Lawyers for Yemeni detainees say they have been encouraged by Hadi's apparent commitment to the issue.

Wells Dixon, an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights who has represented several detainees, says that Yemen could increase pressure on the U.S., as Tunisia, Egypt, and some European nations have done. "With the State Department list, President Hadi needs to ask for the return of those men by name, and needs to do so in the context of the bilateral relationship between Yemen and the U.S.," Dixon said.

I’m lost.

We have a non-terror-suspect (at least, not high-level), dead, in our custody.  We’re either not performing or not releasing an autopsy or the body to the man’s home country.  They won’t accept the body until they get an autopsy.

There’s no family?  No living human being that might want the closure of disposing of the body?  The Yemeni government can’t spot the major autopsy results from the corpse?

If I were writing the novel, we’d discover in the next chapter that Latif didn’t exist and this is just a pretext for some asinine political maneuver.  I don’t believe that, of course, but it’s like they hired Kafka and Heller to run Homeland Security!  But it’s clear that there’s something deeper going on here than an unreleased corpse.

My goodness it is something out of MI6 or Secret Service stunt,or Perhaps
the “which Hunt”  has reached it’s conclusion   When a corpse says, by it’s own limbo   “you’re a which Too”

When our enemies start treating their pow’s as we have treated ours then and only then will there be an outcry! “As you sow,so shall you reap”!

That harkens all too well to why and how “911” actually accumulated

“As ye’ sow,so shall ye’ reap”!

Stephanie Palmer

Oct. 5, 2012, 2 p.m.

11 years and no charges. Despite what Romney says, this country has a great deal to apologize for.  And I’m not just talking about those Americans who have died or been horribly wounded in these fraudulent wars, but for all of the victims that this country has created, including Mr. Latif. There is no moral reason for taking anyone prisoner without specific charges, and holding those prisoners for years without charges is beyond the pale. This country has a great deal to apologize for.

Has anyone done a study of how many of those released from Gitmo went back and re-started their terrorist activities?

Actually it appears as though the Government is Keeping all the “low level” Terrorists so when the real ones show up they, then, can Pounce,
without any more errors

How many of these prisoners were turned in to collect bounties offered by Bush from $5,000 to $25,000?

Change, hope and change. How could Obama have changed any of this in only 4 years. As he said to Barbara Walters, “I am lazy” “probably from growing up on the beaches of Hawaii”.
So we can not even insinuate Obama and his admin have any fault is this. Its only been approx 4 years. Oh and he couldnt get us out of Iraq and Afganistan like he campaigned he would. However he did have us bombing Tripoli for a few months, another war. Well actually he says we are out of these wars. Although if you ask the mothers and fathers and children of our soldiers that are still there and dying they might disagree.

Nice. $25K goes along way when funding more terrorist activities.

Shay, it’s not like the President of the United States is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces or anything.  It’s not like he could just snap his fingers and make Guantanamo go away.

Wait, hang on…Oh.  Never mind.  Continue…

I do give him style points for having the gall to take credit for getting us out of Iraq, when I think we all know that (a) we’re not actually out, yet, and (b) we “left” because the Iraqi government refused to extent our immunity to prosecution, after the video of our guys bombing civilians embarrassed us.

Stephanie, before the country apologizes overseas, I think our government needs apologize to us.  Warrantless wiretapping, abusive security, militarizing the police, jailing whistleblowers (like Bradley Manning) many times past the legal maximum without due process, and all the other things we spend trillions of dollars on to fail to make us less safe from any actual terrorist that might exist while ripping the Constitution to tiny shreds.  They’ve lost all credibility with us, and as a result, we’ve all lost credibility on the world stage.  Refusing to acknowledge the problem isn’t helping.

We live in a world of Newspeak from “1984”—it is now standard practice to call someone who’s been a prisoner in a harsh prison, and likely tortured, by the more innocuous sounding term of “detainee”.

Gary, I prefer terming them “unconventionally free.”

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

The Detention Dilemma

The government remains uncertain what to do with its prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

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