Shawali Khan – Held Without Evidence at Guantanamo

In early 2008, I took on the representation of a shopkeeper from Kandahar, Afghanistan named Shawali Khan who has been held seven years, without any charges or evidence, at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. Our habeas corpus petition demanding his release is pending in the federal courts in Washington, D.C. Khan is detainee #899. I have made made two trips to Guantanamo to interview Mr. Khan.

Shawali Khan is a poor man who sold kerosene and petrol in Kandahar. He is not Al Qaeda or Taliban and was not against the Americans. In late 2002, Khan was riding his motorcycle to the market when he was captured by some Afghani men who robbed him of his money and his motorcycle. Later that day, he was turned over to American soldiers, apparently in exchange for a bounty (at this time, the United States was offering large cash rewards for the capture of any person connected with  Al Qaeda or Taliban.) A couple of months later, Khan was sent to Guantanamo where he has been held ever since. He is alleged to be associated with a terrorist group but has not been charged with any crime, shown any evidence, or given any chance to prove his innocence.

I have filed a writ of habeas corpus demanding Khan’s release. It is currently pending before Judge Bates who has indicated that he will consider our claim in an expedited manner that the United States possesses no evidence to justify Khan’s continued detention.