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Detainee freed after eight years at Guantanamo

Published: 12:44PM Thursday December 10, 2009 Source: Reuters

  • Guantanamo Bay (Source: ONE News)
    Guantanamo Bay - Source: ONE News

A Kuwaiti detainee held in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for almost eight years was sent home after a federal judge ordered him freed in September, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

Fouad al Rabiah, 50, a Kuwait Airways engineer, was captured in Afghanistan and accused by the United States of providing money to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and helping Taliban fighters in the mountainous Tora Bora region.

But al Rabiah's lawyers said the case was based on mistaken identity and that their client was in Afghanistan in October 2001 coordinating deliveries of aid supplies from Iran to refugees when he was captured.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered al Rabiah's release in September after finding he had received only two weeks of military training, which was required in Kuwait, and that he had a record of charity work with no ties to terrorism.

She also said his confessions to interrogators under harsh conditions were not believable.

Al Rabiah's lawyers called on President Barack Obama to apologise on behalf of the United States and provide "appropriate compensation" to the Kuwaiti for his ordeal.

"Mr. al Rabiah can never reclaim the eight years he lost at Guantanamo Bay - and the United States must not simply turn and forget," said his lawyer David Cynamon.

In October, another Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo was sent home and agreed to enter a rehabilitation centre that gave him access to education, medical care and other services. Two other Kuwaitis remain at the Guantanamo prison.

With al Rabiah's transfer, there are now 210 prisoners still at the controversial Guantanamo facility. Obama pledged to close it by January 22 but has admitted the deadline will likely be missed because of political, diplomatic and legal hurdles.