Two Denver lawyers flew to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in early 2009 with good news for their clients: Newly sworn-in President Barack Obama was going to shut down the detention center within a year.
Attorneys Darold Killmer and Mari Newman were met with suspicion by the five men from Yemen they represented. "Sadly, they were right," Killmer said Saturday. "At that time, they had been held for eight years without being charged."
Fast forward to Friday, when he learned two of their clients had been transferred to Oman, which borders Yemen.
"I was just delighted," Killmer said. "The world has largely forgotten them. Our clients have said, 'Please get them to charge me with something. Then I could have a trial and then I could be acquitted.' They said, 'Can I plead guilty to something, even if I didn't do it, so I could serve my sentence and go home?'"
The men who were freed — Jalal Salam Awad Awad and Saad Bin Nasser Ibn Mukbil al-Azani — had been arrested in the same house in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks.
"I swear to you," Killmer said, "there was no evidence they did anything."
He said those held at the facility were "horribly tortured" in the early years. The attorneys for those held in Gitmo became the lifeline to the outside world. Killmer's team visited Yemen in 2007, met the men's families and returned with videos and pictures. The firm's other three clients are still being held at Guantanamo Bay.