Ba Odah v. Obama

At a Glance

Current Status 

On June 25, CCR moved for an order granting Ba Odah's habeas petition and compelling the government to facilitate his immediate release.

Date Filed: 

October 1, 2006

Client 

Case Description 

Ba Odah v. Obama is a habeas corpus petition on behalf of Tariq Ba Odah, a Yemeni man who has been detained at Guantánamo without charge since 2002. The Obama administration cleared him for release in 2009, but, like other cleared Yemenis at the prison, he remains arbitrarily detained solely because of his citizenship. He has now spent one-third of his life in Guantánamo.

Not long after he arrived in Guantánamo, Ba Odah began his hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention without charge. He reports that through the years the crackdown from the Guantánamo prison administration was so brutal that he was unable to maintain his peaceful strike. Periodically he would be forced to give it up before resuming it again. In 2007, however, he resolved to begin what has become one of the longest running hunger strikes at Guantánamo, and it continues to this day.

As a result of his peaceful hunger strike, Ba Odah is force-fed daily, a practice widely condemned as torture. Twice a day, guards strap him to a restraint chair, force a rubber tube down his nose, and pump a liquid dietary supplement into his stomach. Guantánamo prison authorities also keep him in solitary confinement because they view his strike as “non-compliance.” In his current confinement, Ba Odah is only permitted to be outside of his cell for 2-4 hours per day. Unfortunately, he is often too weak to walk out of his cell and take advantage of this time. He has very little human contact. At one point Ba Odah weighed 160 pounds; in the past few years his strike has caused his weight to drop as low as 75 pounds. Tariq says that protesting by hunger striking is the only way to communicate to those of us who have our freedom what it means to be unjustly detained, to be put in a cell for over a decade without charge.

“A captive does not possess any realistic means to send his messages to the world other than to strike. . . Freedom should be much more precious for the human being than all the desires on earth. And we should never give it up regardless of how expensive the price may be.”  Tariq Ba Odah, April 2013, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

CCR continues to advocate for Ba Odah's release publically, in international legal fora, and directly with the U.S. government. Despite all that he has suffered, Ba Odah’s spirit perseveres, as does his commitment to continuing his peaceful protest. He awaits the day that he will be able to return to his loving mother and extended family and begin rebuilding his life as a free man.

Case Timeline

August 14, 2015
Government opposes Ba Odah’s motion for judgment
August 14, 2015
Government opposes Ba Odah’s motion for judgment
After requesting three extensions to file its response, the government opposes Ba Odah’s motion requesting that the court grants his habeas petition. The opposition and exhibits are filed under seal, and public version are filed on August 24, 2015.
June 25, 2015

CCR moves for a court order granting Ba Odah's habeas petition and compelling the government to facilitate his immediate release

June 25, 2015

CCR moves for a court order granting Ba Odah's habeas petition and compelling the government to facilitate his immediate release

Three medical experts submit declarations in support of the motion, asserting that Ba Odah is severelymalnourished, and because of his unstable condition he is in urgent need of adequate medical care.

March 3, 2014
Court grants Ba Odah's motion to dismiss his habeas petition
March 3, 2014
Court grants Ba Odah's motion to dismiss his habeas petition
November 28, 2014
CCR's report to U.N. Human Rights Commission regarding U.S. compliance under Convention Against Torture raises Ba Obah's case
November 28, 2014
CCR's report to U.N. Human Rights Commission regarding U.S. compliance under Convention Against Torture raises Ba Obah's case
The report includes first-person testimony from Ba Odah regarding his ongoing unlawful detention without charge.
April 11, 2014
CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy highlights force-feeding torture of Ba Odah in presentation to American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C.
April 11, 2014
CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy highlights force-feeding torture of Ba Odah in presentation to American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C.
The presentation, entitled "Is Force Feeding Torture?" includes first-hand accounts of Ba Odah's force feeding.
January 31, 2014
CCR files third status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
January 31, 2014
CCR files third status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
The status report notes that, in response to the court's request to either proceed or withdraw his habeas petition, Ba Odah has elected to withdraw the petition.
December 2013
Defense Department institutes media blackout on reporting on Guantanamo hunger strikes
December 2013
Defense Department institutes media blackout on reporting on Guantanamo hunger strikes
The blackout hampers reporting on the status of Ba Odah's ongoing hunger strike.
July 2013
CCR files second status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
July 2013
CCR files second status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
The status report highlights the need for a continued stay, in light of unsealing of Ba Odah's clearance and Obama's lifting of his moratorium on transfers to Yemen.
June 17, 2013
U.S. discloses that Guantanamo Review Task Force had cleared Ba Odah for release nearly four years prior.
June 17, 2013
U.S. discloses that Guantanamo Review Task Force had cleared Ba Odah for release nearly four years prior.
In response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the U.S. unseals the unanimous determination four years prior of the Task Force, which represents every government agency with a stake in Guantanamo including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to clear Ba Odah for release.
May 28, 2013
Celebrities read Ba Odah's letters at New York City event
May 28, 2013
Celebrities read Ba Odah's letters at New York City event
Vanessa Redgrave and Mia Farrow read letters from Ba Odah and other hunger strikers at an event hosted by the Culture Project in New York City.
March 12, 2013
CCR highlights Ba Odah's case at presentation before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)
March 12, 2013
CCR highlights Ba Odah's case at presentation before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)
The presentation to the IACHR's "Thematic Hearing on Situation of Human Rights of Persons Detained in the Guantánamo Naval Base" raises Ba Odah's ongoing unlawful detention and force-feeding.
July 5, 2012
CCR files status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
July 5, 2012
CCR files status report regarding Ba Odah's habeas petition
The status report highlights Ba Odah's deteriorating health as a result of the prolonged hunger strike
May 2009
U.S. transfers Ba Odah to Camp 5, places him in solitary-confinement-like conditions
May 2009
U.S. transfers Ba Odah to Camp 5, places him in solitary-confinement-like conditions
In Camp 5, Guantánamo prison authorities deny Ba Odah virtually any human contact, permitting him outside his cell only 2-4 hours per day, because they deem his peaceful hunger strike to be “non-compliance.”
January 13, 2009
Court stays habeas petition
January 13, 2009
Court stays habeas petition
The stay in part is a result of Ba Odah's compromised health due to his ongoing hunger strike.
February 2007
Ba Odah begins hunger strike
February 2007
Ba Odah begins hunger strike
Ba Odah aims to raise awareness of his illegal and indefinite detention though his hunger strike.
October 2006
Ba Odah files habeas petition
October 2006
Ba Odah files habeas petition
The habeas petition, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges Ba Odah's unlawful detention without charge.
February 2002
U.S. renders Ba Odah to Guantanamo
February 2002
U.S. renders Ba Odah to Guantanamo
The U.S. renders Tariq Ba Odah to the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after Pakistani authorities kidnap him and sell him to the U.S. for bounty.