Amos Barshad | The Marshall Project & Longreads | February 2018 | 16 minutes (4,100 words)

This article was co-published with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

The message came in on a spring day via the undisclosed U.S. government facility that approves all correspondence out of the military prison in Guantánamo Bay. It was a request for representation from Haroon Gul, a detainee, to Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, an attorney. Gul had never had a lawyer. He was one of the last men in Guantánamo without one.

Now, in 2016, his request was urgent. After nearly a decade of nothing, he was being given the chance to explain himself. It would happen through the Periodic Review Board, an administrative body that considers whether Guantánamo prisoners who have…

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