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Chadian released from Guantanamo
Detainee who told Al Jazeera he was abused at facility is resettled in home country.
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2009 18:55 GMT

US political parties oppose resettling on US soil Guantanamo detainees cleared for release [EPA]

A Chadian national held for more than seven years at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been released and sent to his home country.

The US department of justice said Mohammad al-Qurani arrived in Chad on Thursday while a second released man from Iraq, Jawad Jabber Sadkhan, was sent home to Iraq on Wednesday.

Al-Qurani, sometimes referred to as al-Gharani, was cleared of all charges by a US judge in January.

He told Al Jazeera earlier this year that abuse of detainees in the prison had continued despite Barack Obama, the US president, being elected.

The news comes after US media reported that Barack Obama, the US president, has all but abandoned efforts to resettle Guantanamo detainees cleared for release to live on US soil.

It also comes after four Chinese Muslim Uighur detainees were resettled in the Caribbean island of Bermuda on Thursday, and after the tiny Pacific island of Palau said it would take another group of the Uighurs.

Abuse claims

Arrested in Pakistan in October 2001, aged only around 14, al-Qurani was one of the youngest Guantanamo detainees in the facility.

In a phone call in April to Al Jazeera's Sami al-Hajj, himself a former detainee released in 2008, he said he had been beaten and tear gassed in his cell.

He said the alleged ill-treatment "started about 20 days" before Barack Obama became US president and "since then I've been subjected to it almost every day".

Obama wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp by January 2010 [AFP]
"Since Obama took charge he has not shown us that anything will change," he said.

Al-Qurani's lawyer, Zachary Katznelson, told Al Jazeera that the mistreatment had continued throughout January and February this year and included beatings, sleep deprivation and racial abuse.

"At no point was there are real attempt [by US authorities] to get to the bottom of this case [and] to show that he really was an innocent kid, which is what he has been the whole time," Katznelson said.

"Seven and a half years in prison, he never should have been there a day."

Obama ordered the closure of the facility by January 2010 shortly after entering office.

However, the fate of the detainees, now numbering around 230, has remained highly controversial, with efforts to resettle those cleared of charges proving problematic and US congress rejecting efforts to rehouse other detainees on US soil.

The Washington Post newspaper said on Friday that Obama had backed off efforts to bring cleared inmates into the US, following opposition from both US political parties.

Analysts said the move could complicate efforts to settle the detainees elsewhere - for example in Europe - as nations would ask why, if the men were no longer deemed security risks, they were not being sent to the US.

However, the US administration is said to be finalising a deal with Saudi Arabia to accept some of the nearly 100 Yemenis still held at the facility, US and Saudi officials told the paper.

Bermuda furore

As the controversy continues in the US, the resettlement of four Uighurs in the British territory of Bermuda has sparked anger in the British government, who said they were not consulted over the transfer.

Richard Gozney, Britain's Bermuda governor, told island's Royal Gazette newspaper that the Uighur transfer "was done without permission" and that he was only informed of the move on Thursday, the day the men arrived.

Bermuda on Thursday hailed the move, with Ewart Brown, the country's premier, saying he felt a responsibility to help the men "who have been caught in a web of reaction to tragic events which at the time of their happening were not well understood".

Abdul Nasser, one of the four Chinese Uighur detainees who landed in Bermuda early on Thursday, issued a statement through his lawyers, saying: "Growing up under communism we always dreamed of living in peace and working in free society like this one. Today you have let freedom ring."

Source:
Agencies
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