This despite the fact that there are numerous reasonable doubts about his guilt.
He was captured by Pakistani security forces near the Afghan border in late 2001. On most matters, the average American is disinclined to treat Pakistani security forces as arbiters of truth. Many believe they helped hide Osama bin Laden for years. Yet most Americans presume the guilt of Guantanamo Bay inmates accused of belonging to the Taliban or al-Qaeda in large part because Pakistani sources intimated as much when turning them over. When Latif was turned over, the U.S. was paying the Pakistanis for every Arab "fighter" that they found.
How many bounties were paid for innocents?
The Pakistanis turned over prisoners scores at a time, often after conducting their own interrogations. Information was passed on to the Americans to be included in intake reports. "For the Arabic men in question, the interrogation would have required translation between Arabic and Urdu or Pashto (for the interrogation itself), and then translation from that into English (to go into the CIA report)," Marcy Wheeler explains at Emptywheel, where she's followed this case. "There are all sorts of reason why you shouldn't indefinitely detain a man based on such a report!" But information in that intake report got Latif locked away for a decade.
According to the intake report, Latif admitted to fighting with the Taliban. But he denied ever saying so, he insisted he never fought, and his lawyers pointed out other factual inaccuracies in the report persuasively enough that every judge to adjudicate the matter has acknowledged them. He insisted he was traveling to seek treatment for a head injury sustained in an automobile accident. The car accident is corroborated; Yemen's Ministry of Public Health verifies that he was a charity case, and that they sent him to seek further treatment outside the country; and when he was picked up by the Pakistanis he was in possession of his medical records, a U.S. court eventually found.
Suddenly we've skipped ahead many years, but let us not forget that this man spent them incarcerated in solitary or surrounded by al-Qaeda terrorists, unable to contact his family or friends, suffering medically, and without any apparent prospect of challenging his release. Let's count the years, cognizant of how long they must seem inside an island prison in a foreign land.
In August 2008, Marc Falkoff visited Guantanamo Bay, where he met Latif in an interview cell. He was lying on the floor, weak and emaciated. The attorney would try to secure for the detainee a mattress, a pillow, and his medical records. These small comforts were denied the prisoner. His mental state deteriorated as he did everything he could to protest his extrajudicial incarceration: hunger strikes, smearing himself with feces, throwing urine at guards, more consultations with legal counsel.