U.S. military says Guantánamo prisoner committed suicide

 

Defense Attorney David Remes’ statement Sept. 11, 2012:

"Yesterday, the press reported that a Yemeni detainee at Guantánamo had died. The detainee was our client, Adnan Latif, ISN 156, whom we represented since 2004. Slightly built and gentle, he was a father and husband. He was a talented poet, and was devoutly religious. He never posed a threat to the United States, and he never should have been brought to Guantánamo.

The military has not stated a cause of death. However Adnan died, it was Guantánamo that killed him. His death is a reminder of the human cost of the government’s Guantánamo detention policy and underscores the urgency of releasing detainees the government does not intend to prosecute."


Associated Press

An autopsy has found that that a Guantánamo Bay prisoner who died in September committed suicide, a U.S. military official said Thursday.

Adnan Latif, who was found unconscious in his cell in a disciplinary wing of the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba, took an overdose of psychiatric medication, according to a senior Defense Department official.

The official said it had not yet been determined how Latif, who was from Yemen and had a history of mental illness and clashes with guards, managed to collect enough medication to kill himself. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the autopsy results have not yet been released and the case remains the subject of an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The U.S. military does not intend to disclose the results of the autopsy or discuss the case in further detail until after Latif’s remains are returned to his country, said Army Col. Greg Julian, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Miami-based Southern Command, which has jurisdiction over Guantánamo. The remains are at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

His death was the seventh that the U.S. military describes as a suicide at the prison, where the United States now holds 166 men. The deaths of two other prisoners were described as from natural causes.

The finding of suicide in the Latif case was first reported by the website Truthout, followed by The New York Times.

David Remes, a lawyer for Latif, said he is skeptical of the military’s conclusion. Ir would be difficult for the prisoner to accumulate enough medication to commit suicide because he was frequently searched and monitored inside the prison, the lawyer said.

Remes said he thinks it’s possible that Latif was given excessive or incorrect medication. “Given a choice between blaming themselves and blaming Adnan, the choice they made was all but preordained,” he said.

Latif, who was in his 30s, was held at Guantánamo for more than a decade. The U.S. government accused him of training with the Taliban to fight the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. He was never charged and was among several prisoners from Yemen who had been cleared for release but could not be sent back because their country is considered too unstable to prevent former prisoners from engaging in militant activities.

At Guantánamo, he was among dozens of prisoners who waged hunger strikes to protest their captivity. At the time of his death he was in a disciplinary unit for allegedly hurling unspecified bodily fluids at a guard.

He had challenged his confinement with a writ of habeas corpus. In July 2010, a judge ruled a classified report was insufficient evidence that he had trained at the militant camp and ordered his release.

The government appealed to a higher court, which ruled that courts should assume the government documents were accurate and reliable. In June, the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal, which lawyers said has caused increased despair among Guantánamo prisoners.

Associated Press writer Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.

Read more Guantánamo stories from the Miami Herald

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