Legal drama directed by Kevin Macdonald. Base don a true story which follows Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim), who is captured by the US Government and languishing in Guantanamo Bay detention camp without charge or trial. Losing all hope, Salahi finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodi Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley). Together, they face countless obstacles in a desperate pursuit for justice. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), eventually reveals a shocking and far reaching conspiracy.
Copyright Notice: It’s easy to see when our quotes have been copied and pasted, as you’re also copying our format, mistakes, and movie scene descriptions. If you decide to copy our movie quotes please be kind and either link back, or refer back to our site. Please check out our copyright policies here. Thanks!
Emmanuel: [referring to Slahi’s family] In November 2001, their son was taken for questioning by Mauritanian police. He disappeared. For three years, they don’t know if he’s dead, in prison. They don’t know. No one knows. And then, a few weeks ago, Der Spiegel writes a story saying that he’s detained in Guantanamo Bay. They say he’s one of the organizers of nine-eleven. Nancy Hollander: Is he? Emmanuel: I don’t know. I haven’t spoken with him. Guantanamo will not even confirm that he’s there.
Nancy Hollander: [over the phone] But it’s your facility, so how do you not know who you’re holding? “He’s not not there”? What does that mean? I mean, he’s not Schrodinger’s cat. He’s either there or he’s not there.
John: You want to represent the head recruiter for nine-eleven? Nancy Hollander: Alleged. And no, I’m defending habeas corpus, which Bush and Rumsfeld are dismantling gleefully as we speak.
Nancy Hollander: Well, the US government is holding upwards of seven hundred prisoners in Guantanamo. And we don’t know who they are. We don’t know what they’re charged with. Since when did we start locking people up without a trial in this country?
Bill Seidel: [to Coach] Rough justice. That’s what this administration wants. We’ve taken a lot of prisoners in Afghanistan, working our way through to Bin Laden and the guys who planned this s**t. There’s a backlog needs clearing.
Whit Cobb: The administration regards this as the first death penalty case. We want you to lead the prosecution. Stuart Couch: When do we start?
Sergeant S. Sands: Welcome to US Naval Base Guantanamo. This base exists outside of US legal jurisdiction. If you stray outside the designated areas, you will be removed from the island. Apart from your client, you’re not to speak to, or communicate with the detainees. You’re not to discuss classified information with your client, even if it pertains to his case. Illegal disclosures may result in your arrest, and immediate removal from the island.
Teri Duncan: You speak English? How did you learn? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Same as you. One word at a time.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: How can you defend me if you don’t even know what I’m charged with? Teri Duncan: Have you been charged? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: No! No. No. Three years, they charged me with nothing. They kidnapped me from my home, and put me in a jail in Jordan for five months, then in a military base in Afghanistan, which was like living in a toilet, by the way, and brought me here with a bag on my head and chains around my body.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: I’m interrogated eighteen hours, every day, three years. That’s like, go ask Charlie Sheen to name all his girlfriends. Teri Duncan: So you get the news here. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Now that I cooperate, they let me have a TV. We don’t get news, but we have this show, E Exclamation. Teri Duncan: It’s just E! I think the exclamation is silent.
Nancy Hollander: Will you write it down? Your story, how you came here, what happened to you, will you write that down for us? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: So my interrogators can read it? I tried that once already. It didn’t end well. Nancy Hollander: Well, we need your testimony.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: I’ve been writing all my life, and I like that. But writing here is way much dangerous than talking.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [to Nancy and Teri] You do one thing for me. Call this number. Ask to speak to my mother. Tell her, I don’t know, something nice.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [as Nancy and Teri are leaving] See you later, alligators. Now you have to say, “After a while, crocodile.” Nancy Hollander: Not for a while, crocodile. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Good enough.
Nancy Hollander: Are you praying? Teri Duncan: No, memorizing his mother’s number. Nancy Hollander: Well, we’re not going to call that number. No, we got to clear it first. We don’t know who’s on the other end of that line. Teri Duncan: You don’t think it’s his mother? Nancy Hollander: I don’t know.
Arjun: [referring to Slahi] This dude is the Al-Qaeda Forrest Gump. Everywhere you look, he’s there. Stuart Couch: It’s all there in the top sheet. Now we got to check through the intel reports and corroborate. Be exacting, thorough. We are seeking the death penalty, but if we miss something, this guy goes home. Alright? Let’s get to it.
Nancy Hollander: Do you know why Mohamedou wanted us to call her? Teri Duncan: Because she’s his mother? Nancy Hollander: Because every mother believes that her son is innocent. He wanted us to hear that. That doesn’t matter because it’s not the case we’re building. We need to prove that the US government lacks evidence sufficient to detain him. Anything else is a distraction.
Nancy Hollander: Wait, we didn’t get your name. Kent: Kent. Nancy Hollander: Kent what? Kent: Kent tell you any more than that.
Teri Duncan: Where are the case files? Nancy? The government withheld the case files? Nancy Hollander: Yeah. They’re not going to give us anything until they absolutely have to.
Stuart Couch: [referring to Slahi] Cathy, I’m going to make him pay. Cathy Taylor: Thank you. You know, Bruce never liked coming to church much. He always said he felt closer to God in the cockpit. Well, if God was on Flight 175, he is sure as s**t with you right now.
Marseille: [in Arabic, as he hears Slahi praying in the yard] What good were your prayers if they led you here? Believe me, it’s useless. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] That’s where you’re wrong. I always prayed to see the world. Marseille: [in French] In this world you need to be careful who you talk to. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] Why? Are you a guard? Marseille: [in French] You’ll never know.
Marseille: [in French] What do I call you? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] I’m from Mauritania. Marseille: [in French] Okay. The Mauritanian.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] What does it mean “s**t hole”? Marseille: [in French] If you don’t know English, how will you understand the guards? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] By the time I learn, I’ll be home already. Marseille: [in French] Maybe. Or maybe you’ll need to pray a lot harder.
Marseille: [in French] My interrogator. I gave her a name. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] You shouldn’t do that. Marseille: [in French] Yeah, I know. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] Now they’ll make someone else suffer like us. Marseille: [in French] Yes. I told them, Omar Sharif. [Slahi laughs]
Marseille: [in French] The American don’t know s**t that isn’t American.
Nancy Hollander: [referring to files] What the f*** is this, Kent? It’s all redacted. Kent: Hey, I’m responsible for what goes out. You got a problem with what comes in, you take it up with the government.
Stuart Couch: The White House is breathing down my neck to charge Slahi, and I’m still fumbling around for a light switch.
Nancy Hollander: And you need to keep writing, because your letters are invaluable, especially now. The government won’t show us the evidence they have against you. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Because they have none. You’ll see. I’ll keep writing. And, they are good? My letters? I mean, you understand everything? Teri Duncan: No, they’re great. You should’ve been a writer. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Next life, God willing.
Nancy Hollander: Now I need you to sue the government. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: What? Nancy Hollander: We have to file a motion to compel to get them to release the evidence that they have against you. We can’t fight what we don’t know. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: I mean what I say. There’s no evidence. I trust you, you trust me.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: I am innocent. I am innocent, okay? What do you need to see to believe this? Nancy Hollander: It doesn’t matter what we believe. What matters is what we can prove. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: You’re like my interrogators, just like them. Teri Duncan: We know that you’re innocent. We do. But we have to prove that, and we can’t do that unless we see the allegations against you. That’s all we’re asking for.
Teri Duncan: [to Nancy, referring to Slahi] You know, all he wanted was to hear that we believed he was innocent. Why wouldn’t you just say it?
Nancy Hollander: One day, this will all be a tourist attraction. I’m not kidding. And the cruise ships from the Keys will come and dock, and crowds will wander around the cells with their daiquiris, trying to wrap their heads around what the hell happened here. Stuart Couch: What do you think is happening here? Nancy Hollander: I don’t know yet. But they built this place out of the reach of the courts for a reason. Stuart Couch: The world’s second largest minefield to the north and shark-infested waters to the south. There’s two reasons.
Stuart Couch: Let me ask you, I understand everyone has a right to a defense. But doesn’t it bother you at all working for someone like this? Nancy Hollander: I’m not just defending him, I’m defending the rule of law. Stuart Couch: How very Ignatian of you. Nancy Hollander: I didn’t know they studied the Jesuits in the Marine law school. Stuart Couch: We like to fully consider a problem before we blow it up.
Nancy Hollander: My turn. Let me ask you. What if you’re wrong? Stuart Couch: We’re not. Nancy Hollander: What if you are? You built this place, and you abandoned all of your principles, all of your laws, and you’re wrong?
General Geoffrey Mandel: A couple of sleepless nights, that’s all. We pull from the same playbook. You and every other green Marine made it out alright. They will too. Stuart Couch: Sir, the defense is going to play every card that they can. If they’ve got grounds to claim duress, it’s better I know about it now.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] They’re letting you go? Marseille: [in French] None of us are ever getting out. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] They can’t keep us here forever. Don’t let them take your faith. One day you will be home, brother.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] Marseille is on the ocean? Marseille: [in French] Yes. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] Nouakchott also. When I am home, I will lie in bed, listening to the waves. Can you hear them? Marseille: [in French] The sea always sounds the same. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [in French] Close your eyes. Listen. Dream of home. Don’t give up. Marseille: [in French] It’s over.
WSJ Journalist: Well, people have called you a terrorist lawyer. How do you respond to that? Nancy Hollander: Well, when I defended someone charged with rape, nobody called me a rapist. When I defended someone charged with murder, nobody dug around my backyard. But when someone’s accused of terrorism, people like you seem to think that that’s different. It’s not. When I stand by my client, and I insist that he gets a fair hearing, I’m not just defending him. I’m defending you and me. The constitution doesn’t have an asterisk at the end that says, “Terms and conditions apply.”
[referring to Nancy’s comments in the newspaper] Cyrano FKA Pinocchio: It’s a demolition job. Stuart Couch: No. What it is, is a paradigm shift. Yesterday we were prosecuting a nine-eleven terror suspect. And now we’re debating the merits of habeas.
Emmanuel: [referring to Marseille] SIS says all their nationals in Guantanamo are accounted for. There is no record of two-four-one. Nancy Hollander: Where did he go? Emmanuel: Nancy, maybe he doesn’t go anywhere. Maybe he doesn’t exist? Nancy Hollander: Maybe.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: My friend, his number is two-forty-one. I don’t see him for a long time. You know where he is? Steve: I can’t talk to you about other detainees, Mo. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: What happened to him? Steve, please. He has a wife and children. Steve: Two-forty-one was found dead in his cell, last month.
Nancy Hollander: Mr. Slahi has been spirited across borders, he has been interrogated, he has been held, against his will, for six years, without a single charge being laid against him. Now, the Supreme Court said it will not tolerate further delay when it ordered these habeas cases to proceed. The government’s had plenty of time, Your Honor.
Teri Duncan: [referring to Slahi] Why didn’t he tell us that he confessed? Nancy Hollander: It’s not the first time in history that a client’s lied to his lawyers.
Teri Duncan: He’s guilty! He’s f***ing guilty! Nancy Hollander: Maybe he is. And he still has a right to counsel. Teri Duncan: I’m not saying that he doesn’t. I’m saying that he helped to kill three thousand civilians, and we’re doing everything we can to get him out. Nancy Hollander: Yeah, we’re doing our job.
Teri Duncan: I did bake sales for his legal fund. That’s not a part of my job. My dad told me I’m not welcome home for Thanksgiving this year. That’s not a part of my job! Nancy Hollander: Get out. Teri Duncan: What? Nancy Hollander: You want turkey and pumpkin pie with mom, and dad, and Uncle Joe? Go on, get out. Go home. You can’t win a case if you don’t believe your own s**t.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Teri was fun. Now I’m stuck with only you. She doesn’t want to be a lawyer no more? Nancy Hollander: She moved on from your case.
Nancy Hollander: [referring to his confession] Why didn’t you tell us? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: They’re nothing. Like fantasy. None of that happened. Nancy Hollander: You signed them. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: They made me. Nancy Hollander: They “made” you, as in they coerced you? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: What do you think? Nancy Hollander: I don’t know, you tell me.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [to Nancy] You’re asking me to set fire to this place, but I’m still sitting in it!
Nancy Hollander: You need to tell me the truth. You need to tell me what happened to you, or I can’t defend you. Do you understand that? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: I don’t need to tell you nothing! Whatever I say, it doesn’t matter. This f***ing island, I’m dying here! Outside, my family, my brother, their lives go on. Teri’s life goes on. But me, here, I’m like a statue. And you will leave too, and your life will go on. Nancy Hollander: My life? What the hell do you know about my life? This is it. This is my life. I spend my time in places like this, helping people like you. That’s what I do. So don’t question my commitment to your case.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: You’re not committed to me. A person! You think I’m guilty. Say it. I mean, you believe I did all these things. So why the f*** are you here? Explain to me, really. You gave up your life to sit with such an evil guy like me? Explain to me. Nancy Hollander: Everybody has the right to counsel. You need to tell me the truth. You need to write it down. If you can do that, then I’ll be back. And if not, I’ll find you another lawyer.
Stuart Couch: You know, I’ve never been part of a conspiracy, but I’m starting to think that this is what it must feel like to be on the outside of one. Neil Buckland: I’m sorry, what exactly are you accusing me of? Stuart Couch: Hell, I don’t even know because no one is telling me anything.
Neil Buckland: You’re overthinking this, sport. Either wear the jersey, or get off the field. Stuart Couch: My charge is to get Slahi the needle. No one else is going to walk in there, not you, not POTUS. That’s on me. And if I’m wrong, when it comes to my reckoning, I’m the one that’ll have to answer for it.
[referring to the plane that hit the South Tower, and how their friend was killed] Neil Buckland: Now, someone has to answer for that. Stuart Couch: Someone. Not just anyone.
Stuart Couch: We can’t prosecute Slahi. We don’t have the evidence. Bill Seidel: You have multiple signed confessions. What more could you need? Stuart Couch: It was given under duress. Fruit from the poisonous tree. He spent seventy days in special projects, tortured. Not a single word he said is admissible.
Stuart Couch: What’s been done here is reprehensible! Bill Seidel: I don’t want to hear another word about detainee treatment. Your job is to bring charges. Let a judge decide what’s admissible.
Stuart Couch: Sir, I refuse to prosecute this case. As a Christian, as a lawyer. Bill Seidel: What makes you think you’re any better than the rest of us?! Stuart Couch: I don’t think I’m better than anybody else! That is the point! Now, we all took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. At the very least, we are miles away from that. Bill Seidel: You’re a traitor. Stuart Couch: What?
Nancy Hollander: So I reviewed your correspondence, and I think there are strong grounds for making the government’s evidence against you inadmissible. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: And you’re still my lawyer? Nancy Hollander: Very much so.
Nancy Hollander: I’d like you to consider releasing your letters. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: To a newspaper? Nancy Hollander: Maybe a book. People need to read your story for themselves. And it’ll put pressure on the government to give us a court date. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: I’m ready for that.
Nancy Hollander: You don’t want to pray? Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Are you religious now? Why do you care? Nancy Hollander: I don’t. I care about you. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: What do you want me to sign, Nancy? Who am I suing today? God? Nancy Hollander: No one today. Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Then why are you here? Nancy Hollander: No reason in particular. I just didn’t want you to be alone.
Nancy Hollander: I wanted to thank you. You did the right thing. Stuart Couch: Yeah, well, my Christmas list just got a little shorter. That’s for sure. Nancy Hollander: It can’t be any shorter than mine. Stuart Couch: Well, God pays for what He orders. One way or another, He’ll make it work. Nancy Hollander: You really believe that? Stuart Couch: I do.
Nancy Hollander: You know, I think I figured out why they built the camp down there. And we were both wrong. It’s not the detainees they were trying to keep out of the courts. It’s the jailers. My client, he’s not a suspect. He’s a witness.
Stuart Couch: [referring to the judge] Convince him. You’ve convinced me. I mean, don’t get me wrong. If there’s any untainted evidence that Slahi’s guilty, I’ll stick the needle in his arm myself. Nancy Hollander: I’d expect nothing less.
Teri Duncan: [referring to Slahi] He passed the polygraph, twice. Hard to beat the lie detector even once. Nancy Hollander: It won’t stand up in court. But, yeah. It’s nice to know.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Where I’m from, we know not to trust the police. We know the law is corrupt, and we know the government is using fear to control us. And when I moved to Germany as a teenager, for the first time I experienced living where people do not fear the police, where they believe the law protects them. For me, and for so many people in the world, America is like this. Even in Mauritania, we have watched Law and Order and Ally McBeal. And when I first arrive at Guantanamo, I’m happy because I trusted in American justice. Never did I believe I would be eight years a prisoner without trial, and that the United States of America would use fear and terror to control me.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: All my time here, I’ve been told, “You are guilty. You are guilty.” Not for something that I have done, or that has been proved, but because of suspicions and associations. If you have a problem with the United States of America, you will have that problem forever.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: My captors cannot forgive me for something that I have never done. But I am trying to forgive. I want to forgive. Because that is what Allah, my God, wants. For this reason, I do not hold a grudge against those who abused me, you know. In Arabic, the word for “free” and the word for “forgiveness” is the same word. This is how, even here, I can be free.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: For eight years, I have been dreaming of being in a courtroom, and now that I’m here, really, I am scared to death. But I hope I can find peace. Because I believe this court is guided by law not fear. So whatever you decide, Your Honor, I can accept it. May God forgive us, and may God be with us.
[after finally being released in 2016, after 14 years in prison, having never been charged with a crime] Mohamedou Ould Slahi: [real footage, referring to Nancy and Teri] I just had something made for them locally to engrave their names in Arabic. Something very symbolic, but something that doesn’t wear away, just like our friendship wouldn’t wear away.
What do you think of The Mauritanian quotes? Let us know what you think in the comments below as we’d love to know.