Wrongly Imprisoned Guantanamo Detainee Wins Release

November 18, 2006

In November, 2006, Cleary Gottlieb secured the release of Zakirjan Hassam, who had been detained at Guantanamo for four years on a false accusation by bounty hunters. Fleeing religious persecution, Mr. Hassam wound up in early 2001 at a refugee camp in Tajikistan, from which government officials transported him, and many other refugees, to Afghanistan. In April, 2002 Afghans abducted Mr. Hassam to collect a $5,000 bounty the United States promised in exchange for each (alleged) al Qaeda and Taliban member. Mr. Hassam then was imprisoned at Guantanamo for three years, before the U.S. government determined that he was not an enemy combatant and should be released. Nevertheless, he remained imprisoned for another year because the government could not find a suitable country that would accept him.

Cleary Gottlieb filed a habeas petition on behalf of Mr. Hassam in October, 2005 and pressed for his release through litigation in federal district and appeals courts in the District of Columbia. Mr. Hassam was finally released to Albania in November, 2006, where Cleary Gottlieb lawyers represented him at an expedited political asylum hearing. Pending a final determination, Mr. Hassam has temporary asylum in Albania.