The fourth Guantánamo client of Boston attorney Michael Mone Jr. ’96 is finally free.
Ali Hussein Al Shaaban, 32, a Syrian national unable to return home because of concerns for his safety, landed in Uruguay on December 7, 2014, with five other Guantánamo prisoners. His release comes after thirteen years in prison with no charges ever filed against him, five years after he was cleared to leave, four years after a plan to resettle him fell through, and ten months after the government of Uruguay agreed to accept him.
Mone, a partner at Esdaile Barrett Jacobs & Mone who specializes in civil litigation, now also calls himself a habeas attorney for the work he has done representing Guantánamo detainees. His first two Guantánamo clients were released without much of his intervention. But his successful, two-year effort to free his third client, Oybek Jabbarov, an Uzbeki, was featured in BC Law Magazine (Fall/Winter 2013), along with his ongoing efforts to secure the release of Al Shaaban.
Now, Mone can boast that Al Shaaban’s ordeal, too, is finally over. “I was able to talk to him on [December 4] to tell him exactly when he was going to be leaving Guantánamo and that I would see him on the other side,” Mone said from the Montevideo hospital where the men were taken and where he sat with Al Shaaban. “I don’t know that he really believed it.”
A career Uruguayan military officer who witnessed the men deplane told Mone, “in all his years in the military he had never seen six men so happy, and it brought him to tears,” Mone said.
The Uruguayan government is setting up a residence and support services to help the men transition.
Mone credits Uruguayan President José Mujica, a former revolutionary who himself once spent thirteen years in prison, for Al Shaaban’s change of fortune.
“I may practice for another twenty or thirty years, but I know that this is the best thing that I will ever do as a lawyer,” Mone says. “I’m so happy that I got involved.”
One hundred thirty six prisoners remain at the Guantánamo prison, sixty-seven of whom have been cleared for release.