Oldest Guantanamo Bay prisoner transferred to Pakistan after 17 years in custody, U.S. says


A 75-year-old from Pakistan who was the oldest prisoner on the Guantanamo Bay detention middle was launched and returned to Pakistan on Saturday, the overseas ministry in Islamabad and the U.S. Defense Department mentioned.

Saifullah Paracha was reunited together with his household after greater than 17 years in custody within the U.S. base in Cuba, the ministry added.

Paracha had been held on suspicion of ties to al Qaeda since 2003, however was by no means charged with a criminal offense. In May 2021, he was notified that he had been been accepted for launch. He was cleared by the prisoner overview board, together with two different males in November 2020.

Saifullah Paracha, proven posing for an International Committee of the Red Cross delegate at Guantanamo in an undated photograph.

Miami Herald by way of Getty Images

As is customary, the notification didn’t present detailed reasoning for the choice and concluded solely that Paracha is “not a continuing threat” to the United States, in accordance with Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, who represented him at his listening to on the time.

The DOD mentioned in its Saturday assertion that the U.S. appreciates “the willingness of Pakistan and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility.”

In Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, mentioned it had accomplished an in depth inter-agency course of to facilitate Paracha’s repatriation.

“We are glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family,” the ministry mentioned.

Paracha, who lived within the United States and owned property in New York City, was a rich businessman in Pakistan. Authorities alleged he was an al Qaeda “facilitator” who helped two of the conspirators within the Sept. 11 plot with a monetary transaction.

He has maintained that he did not know they had been al Qaeda and denied any involvement in terrorism.

The U.S. captured Paracha in Thailand in 2003 and held him at Guantanamo since September 2004. Washington has lengthy asserted that it may well maintain detainees indefinitely with out cost underneath the worldwide legal guidelines of warfare.

In November 2020, Paracha, who suffers from quite a few illnesses, together with diabetes and a coronary heart situation, made his eighth look earlier than the overview board, which was established underneath President Barack Obama to attempt to forestall the discharge of prisoners who authorities believed would possibly have interaction in anti-U.S. hostilities upon their launch from Guantanamo.

At the time, his lawyer, Sullivan-Bennis, mentioned she was extra optimistic about his prospects due to President Joe Biden’s election, Paracha’s unwell well being and developments in a authorized case involving his son, Uzair Paracha.

The son was convicted in 2005 in federal court docket in New York of offering help to terrorism, based mostly partly on testimony from the identical witnesses held at Guantanamo whom the U.S. relied on to justify holding the daddy.

In March 2020, after a decide threw out these witness accounts and the U.S. authorities determined to not search a brand new trial, the youthful Paracha was launched and despatched again to Pakistan.

In its assertion on the elder Paracha’s repatriation, the DOD mentioned 35 detainees stay at Guantanamo Bay as of Saturday, and that 20 of them are eligible for switch.

Five prisoners there who’ve been charged for his or her roles within the 9/11 assaults are negotiating potential plea offers that might take the dying penalty off the desk and preserve the detention camp on the navy base in Cuba open for the foreseeable future, CBS News reported final month. The attainable plea offers angered some victims’ households, who mentioned they need justice over closure.

The variety of prisoners at Guantanamo has, nonetheless, diminished in current months, as a number of have been transferred elsewhere. In March, Mohammad Mani Ahmad al-Qahtani, who had been linked to 9/11, was despatched to Saudi Arabia, and the next month, Sufyian Barhoumi, who was accused of being an extremist, was repatriated to Algeria after spending almost 20 years within the detention middle. In July, a overview board decided that Khalid Ahmed Qasim, referred to as one in every of Guantanamo’s “forever prisoners,” needs to be launched to an undetermined nation.


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