Political Prisoners in the USA

***Updated on August 15, 2022***

Read “While claiming to defend freedom around the world, the U.S. has dozens of political prisoners — and the majority are people of color,” a comprehensive analysis of political imprisonment in the United States today.

Introduction & methodology

Below is a list of individuals who are currently incarcerated in the United States because of actions threatening U.S. imperial power. AFGJ considers them both political prisoners and “prisoners of Empire.” We define political prisoners as people who are jailed and facing long-term sentences based on charges related to resistance to oppression and repression, and whose cases require a political resolution. Political prisoners are imprisoned because of activities that in some way respond to systemic repression and violations of human rights. Whether the circumstances of the alleged crimes are true or false, we strenuously reject the individualized and out-of-context treatment of these cases as simply “common crimes.” Our listing of these prisoners does not constitute an endorsement of the tactics or immediate goals of every individual. We also recognize that people have a right to resist oppression, and the denial of that right can be, in itself, a crime against the people. In many cases, those arrested have been set up, falsely accused, railroaded, and/or denied adequate defense and basic human rights. More often than not, they have received harsher sentences than usual because of the political nature of their activities.

We are also guided by a commitment to only document individuals who are directly oppressed by the abuses and neglect of the neoliberal and militarist U.S. Empire and engaged in or somehow advancing a revolutionary program to end that Empire and the global capitalist model it serves, even if they do so unintentionally. Before the Cuban Revolution, as a private citizen and lawyer, Fidel Castro denounced a right-wing coup in 1952 by Fulgencio Batista, who maintained that his crimes were “legal” because Cuban law allowed for the legitimacy of revolution. Castro responded:

“There was no revolutionary program, no revolutionary theory, no revolutionary statements preceding the coup: (they are) politicians without people, who, in any case, became assailants seizing power. Without a new conception of the state, of society and the legal system, based on profound historical and philosophical principles, there can be no revolution deserving of the right. They cannot even be called political delinquents.”

We need your help. This list is an ongoing draft. If you see any mistakes, know people who should be listed who are not, have updates on the status of political prisoners or have any other questions or comments, please send them to James@AFGJ.org or Natalia@AFGJ.org.

Political prisoners in the USA

En español

Leonard Peltier, a leader and activist in the American Indian Movement, participated in the AIM encampments on the Pine Ridge Reservation. In 1975 an FBI operation led to a confrontation in which two FBI agents died. In a COINTELPRO style operation, he was sentenced to life for murdering those two FBI agents. Evidence exonerating Peltier was withheld by the FBI. In his appeal, the government admitted it had no evidence to show he killed the two FBI agents.

Mumia Abu Jamal was arrested in 1981. In COINTELPRO style, he was arrested and sentenced to death in an unfair trial for the murder of a Philadelphia policeman (later sentenced to life in prison). Jamal was an organizer and campaigner against police abuses in the African American community and was the President of the Association of Black Journalists. During his imprisonment, he has published several books and other commentaries, notably Live from Death Row.

Simón Trinidad is a long-time leader of mass movements for social change and was a top negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). He was arrested in 2004 in Ecuador in the process of negotiating with the UN for the release of FARC prisoners. He was then extradited to the U.S. on charges of narco-trafficking and kidnapping and subjected to four separate trials due to the difficulty the prosecution had in securing a conviction. A Colombian government spokesperson told Alliance for Global Justice in April 2015 that the repatriation of Trinidad to Colombia is key to the success of the peace talks between FARC-EP and the Colombian Government. So far, the U.S. government has refused to return Trinidad. He is currently serving a 60-year sentence in solitary confinement in federal prison.

Ivan Vargas is a citizen of Colombia and former member of FARC. He was captured by Colombian forces and then extradited to the United States in violation of Colombia’s self-determination. He was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in 2010 and remains incarcerated in the U.S. on bogus drug trafficking charges. His repatriation to Colombia is important to create the conditions for a stable peace between FARC and the Colombian government.

Mun Chol Myong  is a North Korean businessman who extradited from Malaysia in March of 2021 for allegedly violating U.S. laws for taking measures to circumvent illegal sanctions imposed by the U.S. — a country he had never set foot in — against North Korea. He is to be sentenced in January of 2023.

Alex Saab was arrested in Cabo Verde in June of 2020 and extradited to the U.S. in October of 2021, even though no extradition order was provided. Saab was arrested while on a diplomatic mission to buy food and nutritional supplies to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela resulting from the illegal U.S.-enforced sanctions and blockade of the nation. As a diplomat, Saab should have immunity from such detention, and the United Nations as well as other international human rights activists and organizations have denounced his incarceration. He is to be sentenced in December (2022).

Abdul Azeez, Malik Bey and Hanif Shabazz Bey are from the U.S.-occupied Virgin Islands and are the three members of the Virgin Island Three who are still incarcerated. After the murder of eight American tourists in the island during a period of anti-imperial struggle against the U.S., the five men were targeted for being supporters of the struggle, falsely accused of murdering the tourists, and tortured. They were each given eight consecutive life sentences and are currently imprisoned in Arizona.

Black Panther Party (BPP), New Afrikan, and Black Liberation Army political prisoners were victims of the COINTELPRO operations in the 1960s-70s when the FBI sought to destroy the Black liberation movement. Those currently incarcerated include but are not limited to:

  • Mutulu Shakur was a Black Liberation Army activist, co-founder of the Republic of New Afrika movement and acupuncturist sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1988 for his participation in a bank robbery. Shakur provided community healthcare to treat addiction in the Black community. He was accused of killing two police officers and a security guard, a claim debunked by evidence from two trials proving that others were responsible for the deaths.
  • Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly H. Rap Brown, was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party’s minister of justice. His position in the Black liberation movement spurred decades of bogus charges and detainments until he was imprisoned in 2002. He is currently serving a life sentence.
  • Veronza Bowers was convicted in 1973 for the murder of a U.S. park ranger by word of two government informers. There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of these informants. At trial, two relatives of the informants gave testimony insisting that they were lying, which was ignored. He is currently serving a life sentence.
  • Ed Poindexter is serving a life sentence on charges of killing an Omaha policeman. A leader of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, he was convicted in 1971 on the testimony of a teenage boy who was threatened with an electric chair if he did not blame the crime on Poindexter and on Mondo we Langa (who died in prison). Amnesty International defends them as “prisoners of conscience.”
  • Kamau Sadiki was a community organizer for the Black Panther Party involved in the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast for School Children Program and political education efforts. He was sentenced to life in prison on trumped up charges in 2002.
  • Kojo Bomani Sababu (Grailing Brown) was active with the Black Liberation Army and is a New Afrikan prisoner of war. Sababu was sentenced in 1981 to 55 years in prison for attempting to free Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera while they were both incarcerated in Kansas and was convicted of conspiracy.
  • Ruchell “Cinque” Magee was already imprisoned on trumped up charges when he appeared in a courtroom in 1970 to testify in a trial related to the Soledad prison revolt. There, he was spontaneously recruited into the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion, a bid to expose the racist court system and negotiate the liberation of the Soledad Brothers by taking hostages.
  • Joseph “Joe-Joe” Brown was radicalized when he was jailed as a young man in 1971 for his activities in the 30th and Norris street gang. He is a member of the Black Liberation Army and is incarcerated today as a result of acts of armed struggle.

To learn more about Black Panther Party (BPP), New Afrikan, and Black Liberation Army political prisoners, see the documentary films The FBI’s War on Black America: COINTELPRO, Cointelpro 101, or visit the Prison Activist Resource Center or the Jericho Movement.

Fred “Muhammad” Burton, one of the “Philly 5,” was jailed in 1970 during a time of massive police crackdowns on Black activists in Philadelphia and framed for the murder of a policeman. He is an organizer in his prison and a  teacher advocating for racial justice.

John “Balagoon” Cole and Christopher “Naeem” Trotter were prisoners who intervened directly in the 1985 Pendleton Uprising to stop the brutal beating of fellow inmate and beloved jailhouse lawyer Lokmar Abdul Wadood Yazidi (AKA Lincoln Love) at the hands of the “Sons of Light,” a white supremacist organization of prison guards. Both Cole and Trotter had less than two years to serve in their sentences at the time, but as a result of their life-saving actions, were subsequently sentenced to 84 (Cole) and 142 (Trotter) years, and have spent 33 and 20 years in solitary confinement, respectively.

Rev. Joy Powell was a consistent activist against police brutality, violence and oppression in her community. She was warned by the Rochester Police that she was a target because of her speaking out against corruption. Rev. Joy, a Black woman, was convicted of burglary and assault by an all-white jury. The state had provided no evidence and no eyewitnesses for the case. In 2006 she was sentenced to 16 years in prison and now faces 25 years to life due to her framing in a murder case.

Eric King is a long time anti-racist activist who has been held in prison for his activities since the 2014 Ferguson uprising against the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. King is scheduled for release in 2023 but has been constantly targeted by authorities during his time in prison. He recently beat trumped up additional charges against him for defending himself against beatings by guards that threatened his life. He has been held in “in some of the most inhumane conditions throughout the system, with only 40 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement for more than a year (King has been held in solitary for more than three years),” according to the Civil Liberties Defense Center.

The Water Protectors were prisoners of Empire incarcerated for their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipe Line and its threats to the Missouri River and the Standing Rock Sioux people. Today only Jessica Reznicek remains in jail.

  • Jessica Reznicek took action in 2016 to stop the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline by dismantling construction equipment and pipeline valves. In 2021 she was sentenced to 8 years in prison with framed for domestic terrorism. Under normal conditions she would have been sentenced to 37 months, but her terrorism charges resulted in a sentence of 96 months.

Joseph Mahmoud Dibee was arrested in August of 2018 for his participation in a series of arsons and other acts of sabotage between 1995 and 2001 for motivations of eco-defense and animal rights. Dibee was part of the Earth Liberation and Animal Liberation Fronts. Among the allegations against him are the arson of a meat packing plant in Redmond, Oregon, and a power plant in Bend, Oregon. He is to be sentenced in November (2022).

Byron Shane “Oso Blanco” Chubbuck is a member of the wolf clan Cherokee/Chocktaw. He expropriated money from over a dozen U.S. banks to give to the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico. He became known as “Robin the Hood” because he would let the bank tellers know that he was taking the money to give to the poor. He was first jailed in 1999 and is currently serving 55 years in prison.

Ana Belen Montes was a Pentagon intelligence analyst who alerted the Cuban government of plans the U.S. government had of militarized aggression against Cuba. Belen Montes told the judge who heard her case, “I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law…We have displayed intolerance and contempt towards Cuba for most of the last four decades. I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility towards Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.” She was arrested in 2001, pled guilty to one count of espionage, and is currently imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas, where she’s spent nearly two decades in solitary confinement. She is to be released in January of 2023.

Daniel Hale was sentenced in July of 2021 to 45 months in prison for releasing classified documents on the U.S. drone program and targeted assassinations. Hale participated in the program while with the Air Force from 2009 to 2013 and, upon leaving, became an outspoken critic and a defender of whistle blowers.

Matthew DeHart worked as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. National Guard. He was involved with Wikileaks and the hacktivist group Anonymous. Prior to his arrest DeHart ran a server that housed documents bound for Wikileaks. When sensitive documents about the CIA were uploaded to the server by an anonymous third party, DeHart was targeted by the federal government, drugged and interrogated about the documents. The federal government brought charges of child pornography against him, allowing them to gain access to his computers. He was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in 2016.

Shukri Abu-Baker and Ghassan Elashi of the Holy Land Foundation Five were each sentenced in 2008 to 65 years in prison. They were imprisoned for giving more than $12 million to charitable groups in Palestine which funded hospitals and schools and fed the poor and orphans. The U.S. government said these groups were controlled by Hamas, a group it lists as a terrorist organization. Hamas is the elected government of Gaza. Some of these charitable committees were still receiving U.S. funding through USAID as late as 2006. The defendants were originally acquitted in their first trial when the jury remained deadlocked. Testimony was later given in the case by an Israeli government agent whose identity and evidence was kept secret from the defense. This was the first time in U.S. legal history that a testimony has been allowed from an expert witness with no identity, and therefore immune from perjury.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a U.S.-educated Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan and sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010. Four British Parliamentarians wrote to President Obama that “there was an utter lack of concrete evidence tying Dr. Siddiqui to the weapon she allegedly fired at a U.S. officer,” calling for her to be freed immediately. The weapon she allegedly fired in the small interrogation room did not have her fingerprints, nor was there evidence the gun was fired.

Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar was found guilty in 2007 of “refusal to collaborate with federal grand juries investigating the Palestinian anti-occupation movement.” Despite being acquitted of initial charges of racketeering, he was sentenced to prison for 11 years. Dr. Ashqar, formerly a professor at Howard University, has long been a victim of government surveillance, harassment, and intimidation for his support of Hamas and the people of Palestine.

Brandon Baxter, Joshua “Skelly” Stafford, Connor Stevens, and Doug Wright are the Cleveland 4. They were Occupy Cleveland activists arrested on April 30th, 2012 for planning to blow up a bridge. However, the FBI had infiltrated Occupy Cleveland, created a scheme, and incited the group to join in on the plans. Occupy is a decentralized political protest movement against social and economic inequality, most active from 2011 and 2012. In many U.S. cities, including Cleveland, Occupy protesters formed long-term encampments in central plazas and squares.

Daniel Baker is anarchist and anti-fascist activist, yoga teacher, and emergency medical technician trainee who was sentenced to almost four years (44 months) by a Florida judge in October of 2021. His alleged “crime” was sending a post calling for armed defense of the state capitol against possible attacks from the far right in the wake of the January 6,, 2021 riots in Washington, D.C. Baker never organized an armed contingent to go to the Capitol, nor did he go himself with a weapon, and he issued no threats against any individuals. According to an article by Natasha Lennard, “Baker will, nonetheless, face considerably more prison time than most January 6 defendants, including those who crossed state lines, small arsenals in tow, with the aim of overturning a presidential election.” Baker is also a former army veteran who went AWOL rather than continuing to fight in Iraq.

Bill Dunne was arrested in 1979 and sentenced to 90 years in prison for the attempted liberation of an anarchist political prisoner, Artie Ray Dufur. Dunne is politically active in prison. He organizes solidarity 5k runs with the Anarchist Black Cross, helps educate fellow inmates, and writes and edits for the 4struggle magazine.

Marius Mason (formerly known as Marie Mason) is an environmental political prisoner serving a 22 year sentence. In March of 2008, Mason was arrested for vandalism of a laboratory creating genetically modified organisms for Monsanto. He was charged with arson for this and for damaging logging equipment in 1999 and 2000. No one was harmed by these actions. Marius pled guilty to arson charges, but the judge applied a “terrorism enhancement.” He was sentenced to 22 years in 2009 and is now serving the longest sentence of any “Green Scare” prisoner.

Alvaro Luna Hernandez (Xinachtli) is a Chicano community organizer and prison activist. He was the National Coordinator of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee and involved in anti-police brutality activism in Houston. He was continually targeted by the police, who in 1996 attempted to arrest him for a spurious robbery charge that was later dismissed. The police used violence to arrest him, but after a days-long manhunt, it was ultimately Hernandez who was sentenced to 50 years in prison on trumped up charges of threatening a sheriff while resisting arrest.

Fran Thompson is a long-time ecological defender. Jailed since 1994, she is serving a life sentence for successfully defending herself against a man who had broken into her home and threatened to murder her. What she did was an act of personal defense against the patriarchal system, and she was likely targeted because of her eco-defense, given that she was not allowed to enter a plea of self-defense.

Maddesyn George is a political prisoner incarcerated for defending herself from assault by a white man who had raped her only one day before. George is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes and a survivor of domestic and sexual abuse. She’s been in prison since July of 2020 and is serving a 6.5 year federal sentence. We include her as a political prisoner because her case is reflective of two areas of human rights violations that demand a political solution. Women are suffering from an epidemic of misogynist violence and sexual abuse that is rooted in the patriarchal system. There are hundreds of women arrested and detained in the U.S. for their self defense against perpetrators of abuse against them. The legal system treats these as individual cases, neglecting the fact that women are both attacked and criminalized as a class for their acts of survival. George is also a native woman, a segment of the population that experiences murder rates 10 times higher than the national average. George is being punished for refusing to become another number in that grim statistic. Maddesyn is emblematic of all women, and of native women, specifically, who have defended themselves against their oppressors, and who are being systemically ignored and, indeed, punished for their self-defense.

To learn more about the targeting of native women and criminalization of survival as an act of political repression, visit: Survived and Punished, Defend Survivors, Coalition to Stop Violence against Native Women, and MMIW USA.

Josh Williams was an active Black Lives Matter protester in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. He participated in the uprising against police brutality sparked by the police murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. In 2015, at the age of 19, Williams was sentenced to 8 years in prison for arson, burglary, and stealing. He entered a QuickTrip convenience store, which had previously been broken into by other looters, and lit fires inside and outside the store. His shockingly long sentence by a St. Louis judge was meant to intimidate other protestors against police brutality. As of May 2021, following the Black Lives Matter uprising sparked by the police murder of George Floyd, Williams has been placed in solitary confinement. According to a Gofundme campaign, felony charges have recently been issued against Josh that threaten his release.

Below is a list of people currently incarcerated and facing long sentences for their activities during the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings against racism and police brutality sparked by the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The situation is very much in flux. The repression of this movement by militarized police and federal agents is leading to a spike in politically motivated arrests and is resulting in a new wave of political prisoners and prisoners of Empire. The situation is exacerbated by the leveling of felony charges against so many of those arrested for their resistance.

  • Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman are human rights lawyers arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail through the broken window of a police car during a May 2020 protest in Brooklyn, NY following the murder of George Floyd. Their charges originally amounted to a minimum sentence of 45 years and a maximum of life in prison. Both have pleaded guilty, and as of May (2022), federal prosecutors have agreed to reduce their prison sentence to 18-24 months. According to news from earlier this year (2022), they remain under home confinement awaiting trial in November.
  • Brandon M. Wolfe, Davon Turner, Bryce Williams and Dylan Robinson were indicted for the arson of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct during a May 2020 protest. As of May (2021), all four have pleaded guilty. In April of 2021, Robinson was sentenced to four years in federal prison. In May of 2021, Wolfe was sentenced to 3.5 (41 months) years in prison and Turner was sentenced to three years in federal prison. In June of 2021 Williams was sentenced to about two years in prison (27 months).
    *A meme circulated on social media claiming that Wolfe was a white supremacist and provocateur, but the meme was anonymous and included nothing to back up the allegations. Up until now, we have seen nothing indicating that Wolfe’s motivations were that of a provocateur. Unless we receive other substantiated reports, we will consider his actions to be directed against police brutality and racism and the indictment of those involved in the act to be politically-motivated. We encourage those with more information to contact us.
  • Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal is a Philadelphia woman accused of torching two police cars during protests outside of City Hall on May 30, 2020. The FBI was able to track Blumenthal thorugh Instagram, Etsy, and LinkedIn. At this moment, she remains at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Philadelphia, held without bail, and faces a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence and 80-year maximum sentence if convicted. As of early May (2021), neither the prosecutors’ office nor courts have expressed any clear plans to hold a trial in the foreseeable future.

Political prisoners in occupied Guantánamo

There are still 36 inmates held at Guantanamo Prison in indefinite detention without trial, most since 2002. The Guantanamo Prison is part of the U.S. base there illegally occupying Cuban land, and is notorious for its inhumane and degrading conditions and systemic use of torture. Following is a list of the inmates from the closeguantanamo.org website:

Please also note that the numbers before the men’s names are their ISN numbers (the “Internment Security Numbers” by which they are identified in Guantánamo).

  1. 027 Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S., but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in April 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in May 2016; another review took place in December 2016, but in January 2017, just days before President Obama left office, his ongoing imprisonment was again upheld, although he has finally been approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in May 2021.
  2. 028 Moath Al Alwi (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in September 2015, and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in October 2015. Another review took place in March 2018, but, shamefully, did not deliver its ruling until October 2020, when the board recommended him for ongoing imprisonment. He was finally approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in December 2021.
  3. 038 Ridah Al Yazidi (Tunisia) Cleared for release in 2010.
  4. 039 Ali Hamza Al Bahlul (Yemen) Convicted pre-Obama, and given a life sentence, although that conviction was largely, but not entirely overturned on appeal; see “Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul, David Hicks and the Legal Collapse of the Military Commissions at Guantánamo” and In Contentious Split Decision, Appeals Court Upholds Guantánamo Prisoner Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul’s Conspiracy Conviction.
  5. 242 Khaled Qassim (Khalid Qasim) (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in February 2015 and he was recommended for ongoing detention in March 2015, a decision that was upheld in March 2020, and was again upheld in December 2021. He is currently challenging his ongoing imprisonment in the U.S. courts.
  6. 309 Muieen Abd Al Sattar (UAE) Cleared for release in 2010.
  7. 569 Suhayl Al Sharabi (Zohair Al Shorabi) (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in March 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in March 2016. In March 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld. He was finally approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in November 2021.
  8. 682 Ghassan Al Sharbi (Abdullah Al Sharbi) (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in June 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in July 2016. In August 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld, but in February 2022 he was finally approved for release by a PRB under President Biden.
  9. 685 Abdelrazak Ali (Saeed Bakhouche, Bakhouch) (Algeria) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in May 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing detention in July 2016. In January 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld, but he was finally approved for release under President Biden in April 2022. He is also currently challenging his ongoing imprisonment in the U.S. courts.
  10. 708 Ismael Al Bakush (Libya) Recommended for continued detention, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in July 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in August 2016, a decision that was upheld in November 2020.
  11. 841 Said Salih Said Nashir (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in April 2016, and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in November 2016; another review took place almost immediately, in December 2016, but in January 2017 his ongoing imprisonment was again upheld. In October 2020, however, he became the only prisoner under Donald Trump to have his release recommended by a PRB.
  12. 893 Tawfiq Al Bihani (Saudi Arabia) Cleared for release in 2010.
  13. 1017 Omar Al Rammah (Zakaria al-Baidany) (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S., but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in July 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in August 2016. Another review took place in February 2017, but, shamefully, did not deliver its ruling until October 2020, when the board recommended him for ongoing imprisonment. He was finally approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in December 2021.
  14. 1094 Saifullah Paracha (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place on March 8, 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in April 2016; another review took place in March 2017, but his ongoing imprisonment was again upheld in April 2017, although he has finally been approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in May 2021.
  15. 1453 Sanad Al Kazimi (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in May 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in June 2016. In December 2018, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld, but he was finally approved for release under President Biden in October 2021.
  16. 1456 Hassan Bin Attash (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in September 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in October 2016. In September 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld, but he was finally approved for release under President Biden in April 2022.
  17. 1457 Abdu Ali Sharqawi (Sharqawi Al Hajj) (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his first review took place in March 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in April 2016. A second review took place in February 2017, upholding his ongoing imprisonment a month later, and in February 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was again upheld. Shockingly, in 2019, he also attempted to commit suicide while on a phone call with his lawyers, and harmed himself again in March 2020. In April 2021, his fourth PRB hearing took place, and in June 2021 he was recommended for release.
  18. 1460 Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in July 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in August 2016, although he has finally been approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in May 2021.
  19. 1461 Mohammed Ghulam Rabbani (Ahmed Rabbani) (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in September 2016, and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in October 2016. In September 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld, but he was finally approved for release under President Biden in October 2021.
  20. 1463 Abdulsalam Al Hela (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S., but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in May 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in June 2016, a decision that was upheld in June 2018. In March 2021, he had another hearing, and was finally recommended for release in June 2021, although is also currently challenging his ongoing imprisonment in the U.S. courts.
  21. 10011 Mustafa Al Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway.
  22. 10013 Ramzi Bin Al Shibh (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway.
  23. 10014 Waleed Bin Attash (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway.
  24. 10015 Abd Al Rahim Al Nashiri (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway.
  25. 10016 Abu Zubaydah (Palestine-Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in August 2016, when his ongoing imprisonment was upheld, as it was again in March 2020.
  26. 10017 Abu Faraj Al Libi (Libya) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in August 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in September 2016. In May 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld.
  27. 10018 Ammar Al Baluchi (Ali Abd Al Aziz Ali) (Pakistan-Kuwait) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway.
  28. 10019 Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali) (Indonesia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in August 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in September 2016. In January 2021, just as Joe Biden took office, the Pentagon announced its intention to file charges against him in a military commission, along with Modh Farik Bin Amin (ISN 10021) and Mohammed Bin Lep (ISN 10022).
  29. 10020 Majid Khan (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution, he accepted a plea deal in February 2012, although he was not sentenced until October 2021. It is anticipated that he will be released by February 2022.
  30. 10021 Modh Farik Bin Amin (Zubair) (Malaysia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in August 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in September 2016. In May 2019, he failed to attend his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld. In January 2021, just as Joe Biden took office, the Pentagon announced its intention to file charges against him in a military commission, along with Riduan Isamuddin (ISN 10019) and Mohammed Bin Lep (ISN 10022).
  31. 10022 Mohammed Bin Lep (Lillie) (Malaysia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in August 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in September 2016. In June 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld. In January 2021, just as Joe Biden took office, the Pentagon announced its intention to file charges against him in a military commission, along with Riduan Isamuddin (ISN 10019) and Mohd Farik Bin Amin (ISN 10021).
  32. 10023 Guled Hassan Duran (Gouled Hassan Dourad) (Somalia) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S., but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in August 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in September 2016, a decision that was upheld in November 2018. He was finally approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in November 2021.
  33. 10024 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Pakistan-Kuwait) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway.
  34. 10025 Mohammed Abdul Malik (Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu) (Kenya) Recommended for continued detention, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in May 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in June 2016. In July 2019, he boycotted his hearing, and his ongoing imprisonment was upheld. He was finally approved for release by a PRB under President Biden in December 2021.
  35. 10026 Abd Al Hadi Al Iraqi (Iraq) Recommended for prosecution and charged, even though he had been determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013.
  36. 10029 Muhammad Rahim (Afghanistan) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S., but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in August 2016 and he was recommended for ongoing imprisonment in September 2016, a decision that was upheld in November 2019, and again in April 2022.

Other classes of political imprisonment

Immigrant detention centers hold undocumented workers, families and students. Every year more than 400,000 immigrants are detained, and on any given day there are around 40,000 persons in immigrant detention centers. These individuals are jailed because of the U.S.’ fervent anti-immigrant political ideology.

As recently as the 1980s, immigrants were rarely detained. They were either accused of misdemeanors and quickly deported or permitted to go about their lives pending immigration hearings. In recent years there has been a massive boom in both immigrant detention and deportation. Even though we’re experiencing the lowest level of immigration from Mexico into the U.S. in 45 years, private immigrant detention centers are a booming and highly protected industry. The U.S. government has promised to supply enough undocumented immigrants to keep 36,000 beds in detention centers occupied all year round.

Racism, class repression, and xenophobia are the political forces underlying the boom in immigrant detainees. The U.S. government increasingly criminalizes undocumented people. Rather than treating them like low-level civil offenders, the new policy is to target them arbitrarily, and once they’re arrested, to lock them up. Being undocumented is a highly politicized crime. Those incarcerated in immigration detention centers are a class of prisoners of Empire too numerous to name.

Mass incarceration is a foundational element of racist and anti-worker oppression. Not every target of state repression makes it to jail or is given a chance to defend themselves in court or even be charged with a crime. Many of those who die as a result of state-sanctioned violence are guilty of nothing more than fitting an ethnic profile that makes one a suspect by virtue of the color of their skin. Every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the U.S. government killed a Black man, woman or child.

While non-hispanic Whites make up 63.7% of the U.S. population, people of African heritage and Latinos make up almost two thirds of those in U.S. jails. Persons lacking a GED or high school diploma make up 47 percent of inmates, and the annual income of the incarcerated, prior to their arrests, was 41% less than their peers among the un-incarcerated.

With under 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. jails 25% of the world prison population, with 2.3 million prisoners. The development and growth of the mass incarceration model took place at the same time crime rates have been in decline. The primary purpose of the U.S. prison system appears to be about social control, intimidation of resistance and the maintenance of a massive and legal form of slave labor.

Conditions in U.S. prisons reflect a lack of basic health care, isolation from family and community, lack of educational opportunity, widespread incidents of torture and beatings, and generally degrading treatment. U.S. prisons hold over 80,000 persons in solitary confinement. In 2012 alone the Justice Department estimates there had been 216,000 victims of prison rape.

While we do not call all prisoners political prisoners, we must note that they are all subjects to a politically motivated system of oppression. The repercussions of the U.S. incarceration model are felt acutely far beyond the locked doors and bars of our jails. The politics of fear is diffused throughout U.S. society, particularly for poor people and racial minorities. We have seven million U.S. residents who are in prison, on parole or on probation. When we consider the massive government monitoring of our population, we can justifiably call the United States a prison nation.

We want to acknowledge Stan Smith and the Chicago Committee to Free the Five (773-376-7521, uscubachi@yahoo.com) for initiating this project and compiling the original list in 2013. 

This is part of a popular education initiative to expose and oppose human rights violations in and by the U.S.

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