US to transfer Kuwaiti prisoner at Guantanamo
Washington, November 3, 2009
The Obama administration has decided to transfer overseas a Kuwaiti held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and will not appeal a court decision freeing him, the Justice Department said on Monday.
In September, a US district judge ordered the release of Fouad al Rabiah, a Kuwaiti Airways engineer, and harshly criticized the US government for using coerced confessions to justify detaining him indefinitely.
Held at Guantanamo for almost eight years, al Rabiah was accused of providing money to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a trip to Afghanistan in July 2001 and of helping Taliban fighters in the mountainous Tora Bora region during a subsequent trip in October.
His lawyers said it was a case of mistaken identity and that al Rabiah was in Afghanistan in October coordinating deliveries of aid supplies from Iran to refugees. Last month they asked the judge to enforce the order to release him.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted al Rabiah's release after finding that 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.
"The government has determined not to appeal the case involving al Rabiah and is working towards completing the administrative and diplomatic processes necessary to effectuate (his) transfer expeditiously," said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Justice Department's national security division.
Congress has required the Obama administration to tell lawmakers when they plan to move detainees from the prison camp and then wait 15 days before sending them overseas.
"If in fact that is the case, it doesn't surprise me at all that the government is not appealing because they don't have a viable appeal," David Cynamon, one of al Rabiah's lawyers, told Reuters.
"Second, it's outrageous that they've just stalled and delayed for now close to two months and forced us to file a motion for contempt so an innocent man could go home."
He said he would pursue that motion if the Obama administration tries to put conditions on his release.
Last month another Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo was sent home and agreed to enter a rehabilitation center that provided him access to education, medical care and other services.
Cynamon has also asked Attorney General Eric Holder and inspectors general at the Defense Department and Justice Department, among others, to investigate the harsh interrogations of al Rabiah at Guantanamo.
There are 215 detainees still at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, which President Barack Obama has pledged to close by Jan. 22. However, political and legal hurdles are making it difficult for his administration to meet that goal.
The Obama administration is set to decide by mid-November which of the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo will face military commissions or charges in US criminal courts. Some of the 215 detainees are expected to be released. – Reuters