“He is a kind, humorous, fun-loving guy,” said his long-serving lawyer George Clarke, who was furious at the reversal. “We joke with each other. He’s very interested in finding a girlfriend or a wife.”
The cases of the other two cleared prisoners are more complicated. One man is Tunisian, Ridah bin Saleh al Yazidi, 55, who was brought there in January 2002 and was approved for release a decade ago but has shown no interest in leaving. The other is a stateless Rohingyan, Muieen Abd al Sattar, 45.
Before a typical release, a shackled prisoner sits across a table from representatives of a would-be host country or the International Committee of the Red Cross to express a willingness to follow the rules. During the years when the State Department was arranging transfers, neither man would leave his cell for such meetings.
“Two of them had an opportunity to get on an airplane and chose not to go,” Rear Adm. John C. Ring, a former prison commander, remarked in 2018. “So how bad could it be here?”
Other defense and diplomatic officials across the years have described those two prisoners as too profoundly damaged — either mentally ill or accustomed to their institutionalization — to try to seek a way out. That would leave forced repatriation of Mr. Yazidi as one option.
For now, Mr. Barhoumi’s brother and mother are still planning for his return. They anticipate that, like the other 17 Algerians who were repatriated through the years, eight by the Bush administration and nine by the Obama administration, the Algerian government will detain him for questioning before he is released to his family.
Then, “he’ll live his life like a normal citizen so he can make up on the life he’s missed,” said his brother Samir. During a recent call from Guantánamo, Mr. Barhoumi asked his mother whether there was still a willing bride waiting for him. So she checked, and the woman replied: “God willing, when he gets back we’ll make it happen.”