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Questions linger for parents of Yemeni prisoner who died in Guantanamo

Despite administrative board reviews that recommended Adnan Latif be returned to Yemen, the 32-year-old was found dead in his Guantanamo cell earlier this month.
All the material Adnan Latif's family have left from Guantanamo, where their son was found dead in his cell earlier this month.
All the material Adnan Latif's family have left from Guantanamo, where their son was found dead in his cell earlier this month.

TAIZ, YEMEN // Thousands of miles from his family in Taiz, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died inside the US-run Guantanamo Bay maximum-security prison in Cuba.

His family refuses to believe he died of natural causes on September 8 as the US government said.

"He is dead now, but this case will live until the truth is revealed," said his father, Farhan Abdul Latif, in an interview with The National.

Adnan Latif, 32, was the ninth person to die in the prison, set up to hold members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militants, since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the cause of death.

The military said that guards discovered Adnan Latif unconscious in his cell and that efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Two of the earlier deaths at the prison were from natural causes and six were designated as suicides, most of them by hanging.

"Latif had attempted suicide several times," said his lawyer, David Remes. "He was so fragile, he was so tormented that it would not surprise me if he had committed suicide. However you look at it, it was Guantanamo that killed him."

His father said Adnan would not have committed suicide and had no links to terror groups. He said his son was treated as a terrorist while he was simply a poor man who was taken prisoner by US forces in 2001 when he was in Pakistan seeking treatment for wounds he received to his head and eye from a car accident in Yemen.

"Towards the end of our calls with him, he would scream, saying he was being tortured and continually beaten by the US forces in Guantanamo. That is when guards forcibly closed the phone line," he said. "The US had no proof Adnan had any links to Al Qaeda or Taliban. All along, he was being held illegally."

Last June, Adnan sent his mother a photo of himself wearing an orange prison suit inside his Guantanamo cell. He attached a note saying: "Mother, do not to be sad and accept the fate of God."

"I prayed to see him before I die. My prayer was not accepted," Adnan's mother, Mona Abdullah Saeed, said last week. "He was the sweetest of people and most obedient of all my children." She said her son "only wanted good health. This was his only crime".

Adnan's medical journey started in 1994 when he travelled to Jordan at the expense of the Yemeni government, but his condition did not improve.

"At this point he was open to all options if it resulted in improving his health. This is when he was in contact with a Pakistani physician who offered to help," Mohammed Farhan, Adnan's younger brother, said.By August of 2001, Adnan was on his way to Pakistan. Hours before his flight from Sanaa, he called his family in the southern Yemeni province of Taiz.

"He told me his medical trip would only last a couple of months," Mohammed Farhan added. His family lost contact with him until they learnt he was arrested by Pakistan security forces.

"It was dirty business. Pakistanis were looking for anyone of Arab origin. They knew the Americans would accept anyone. He later informed us that Pakistani forces sold him to the Americans for $5,000 (Dh18,300)," said Mr Abdul Latif. The US government said Adnan was an Al Qaeda fighter recruited and trained in Afghanistan by the Taliban. He was captured near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in late 2001.

Administrative review boards at Guantanamo recommended that be transferred to Yemen in 2006 and again in 2008, but the recommendations were never carried out. Adnan challenged his detention in the US district court in Washington, which ruled in July 2010 that he be sent home.

The US government successfully appealed against the ruling but it did not want to return him to Yemen and the supreme court rejected Adnan's appeal without comment in June.

The Sanaa-based Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights represented Adnan in Yemen since was detained. They are calling his decade-long imprisonment as a crime against humanity, while not ruling out the possibility of his death being linked to torture.

"Prison guards in Guantanamo treat inmates worse than animals and prisoners undergo numerous sorts of torture" said Abdul Rahman Barman, executive director of the organisation. The victim's family share the same feelings.

"Where are the international human-rights organisations? Why are they not helping us in our just cause?" Mr Abdul Latif said.

"This case is far from over. We are holding US president Barack Obama responsible for the killing of my beloved son."



* With additional reporting by Reuters

Published: September 16, 2012 04:00 AM


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