Confirmed: Gulet Mohamed In The Air, On His Way Home

| Thu Jan. 20, 2011 5:29 PM EST

Gulet Mohamed, the 19-year-old from Virginia who spent weeks in detention in Kuwait and says he was subjected to beatings and threats, perhaps at the behest of the US government, is on his way home. Mohamed boarded United Airlines Flight 981 from Kuwait to Dulles International Airport, outside Washington, DC, around 4:45 p.m. EST on Thursday. He's scheduled to land around 6:00 a.m. on Friday. 

Mohamed's impending return to the US marks a victory for his family and his lawyer, Gadeir Abbas. On Tuesday, Abbas filed suit in federal court, alleging that the US government was violating Mohamed's rights by using the no-fly list to prevent Mohamed from returning to his home in Alexandria, Virginia. The judge in the case seemed inclined to agree, and scheduled an immediate hearing in which Justice Department lawyers promised to have Mohamed on his way home shortly. They appear to have kept that promise. Shortly after 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, Abbas sent a text message to Mother Jones: "Plane is in the air and Gulet is on it." The air travel tracking site FlightAware.com confirms that UA 981 took off from Kuwait at 5:12 p.m. EST (1:12 a.m. local). 

There's still a chance that the plane could be turned around or diverted, but that's unlikely—government lawyers have repeatedly told the court that Mohamed should have no trouble getting home this time around.

If you want to learn more, you came to the right place. Mother Jones has been covering Mohamed's story since the first reports of his alleged beating and confinement emerged in early January. Our first story examined allegations that the US government was behind his initial detention and alleged brutal interrogation. Since then, we've covered his charges that the FBI was illegally interrogating him; his family's first, abortive attempt to work with the Kuwaitis to deport him back to the US; his lawsuit against the US government (filed this Tuesday); and his legal team's swift and decisive victory in that lawsuit.