NEW YORK—PEN America welcomes news of the Periodic Review Board’s decision to clear Mohamedou Ould Slahi for release from Guantánamo Bay on the grounds that he does not pose a significant threat to the United States. Slahi, author of the bestselling memoir Guantánamo Diary, has been held at the U.S. detention camp for nearly 14 years.

“We are thrilled that there has been a positive breakthrough in Mohamedou Slahi’s case, one that PEN America has joined in championing as a protracted injustice,” said Karin Karlekar, Director of Free Expression At-Risk Programs at PEN. “The U.S government must release Slahi immediately to be reunited with his family, and bring to an end the wrongful indefinite detentions at Guantánamo by processing the cases of all remaining prisoners—including 30 already cleared for release.”

Slahi appeared before the PRB, comprised of national security, intelligence, and other officials, on June 2, 2016. He has been held at Guantánamo since August 2002, a year after he was detained in Mauritania at the request of the U.S. government. A federal judge determined his detention was unlawful and ordered his release in 2010, but the U.S. Government successfully appealed the decision.

Slahi’s memoir, a unique snapshot of life in captivity at Guantánamo, is based on his 466-page handwritten manuscript penned while in detention. It was published with numerous redactions in January 2015, becoming a bestseller in the U.S. Guantánamo Diary has since been translated into multiple languages for publication in several dozen countries. The memoir was edited by Larry Siems, PEN America’s Free Expression Director for more than a decade, who played a lead role in advocating for Slahi’s release and in helping his work to reach a wider audience. PEN staged an event featuring Slahi’s work in 2015, at which leading American authors, artists, and activists read excerpts detailing his first-hand account of imprisonment, torture, and day-to-day human interactions in the world’s most infamous detention camp.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: [email protected], +1 646.779.4830