Mahvish Khan Biography
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan
is an American lawyer, born to
immigrant Pashtun parents in
Michigan. While pursuing a law
degree at the University of Miami,
she became enraged by the illegal
detainment of prisoners at
Guantanamo Bay. Having grown up
listening to her mother tell her
"Now is not the time to be
complacent," Khan felt compelled to
help any way she could. With her
fluency in Pashto and a familiarity
with Afghan cultures and customs
that no other "habeas" lawyer with
security clearance had, she was
quickly taken on as an interpreter
for Afghan detainees. Six months
later, in January 2006, Khan was on
her way to Guantanamo Bay. Her role
with the detainees quickly
developed. She began providing
supervised legal counsel and
traveled to Afghanistan to find
exonerating evidence for prisoners.
During more than thirty trips to
Guantanamo, Khan unexpectedly
connected with the very men that
Donald Rumsfeld called "the worst of
the worst." She brought them Starbucks chai, the closest
available drink to the kind of tea
they would drink at home. And they
quickly befriended her, offering
fatherly advice as well as a
uniquely personal insight into their
plight, and that of their families
thousands of miles away. As time
went by Khan began to question
whether Guantanamo truly held
America's most dangerous enemies.
But regardless of each prisoner's
innocence or guilt, she was
determined to preserve their most
fundamental right, the right to a
For Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, the
experience was a validation of her
Afghan heritageas well as her
American freedoms, which allowed her
to intervene at Guantanamo purely
out of her sense that it was the
right thing to do. Her story is
challenging, brave, and essential
test of who she isand who we are.
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is a recent
law school graduate and journalist.
She has been published in the Wall
Street Journal, New York Times, the
Washington Post, and other media.
She lives in San Diego.
This biography was last updated on 08/26/2011.
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