US releases last Kuwaiti detained in Guantanamo
Faez al-Kandari to return home after being held without charge for 14 years at the notorious US naval prison in Cuba.
The US military said on Friday it released the last of 12 Kuwaiti nationals detained at its Guantanamo Bay prison for years without charge.
The repatration of Faez al-Kandari – held for about 14 years – leaves 104 inmates still languishing at the controversial US naval camp in Cuba.
The Pentagon said in a statement that Kandari’s detention “does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States”.
Kandari was cleared for release after a Periodic Review Board hearing at Guantanamo last July.
After a medical examination at a military hospital, he will be sent to a comprehensive rehabilitation programme set up by the Kuwaiti government to help Kandari reintegrate into Kuwaiti society.
“Mr Kandari is delighted to be going home and reuniting with his beloved parents and family after all these years away,” said his lawyer Eric Lewis.
“We are grateful to the government of Kuwait for its dedication and commitment to bringing its citizens home.
“Kandari was never charged with any crime. He goes home with optimism and looks forward to resuming a peaceful life and to putting Guantanamo behind him.”
The release came two days after the US military transferred two Yemenis from detention in Guantanamo to settle in Ghana.
Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef, 36, and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, 38, will live in Ghana for two years, the defence department said in a statement on Wednesday.
Ghana’s foreign ministry said the two men “have been cleared of any involvement in any terrorist activities”, but are unable to return to Yemen. It added they will be able to leave Ghana after two years.
US President Barack Obama has pledged to shut the controversial prison since his election in 2008.
Despite signing an executive order in 2009 to shut it down, Obama has not been able to do so because of political oppostion.
A number of prisoners have been freed and resettled in places other than their home countries with detainees sent to Uruguay, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Oman.
Of the 779 detainees brought to the prison in 2002, most have been freed or transferred without facing any charge.
White House and State Department officials have expressed frustration in the press with the pace of detainee transfers, which the Defense Department controls.
On Friday, General John Kelly – outgoing head of the US Southern Command – lashed out at such comments at a press conference, saying accusations of “slowing down or trying to impede the release of detainees … is complete nonsense”.
“It’s an insult frankly to a serving military officer or a civil servant to be accused … that we would in any way impede the progress.”
Kelly added before leaving the podium, if released detainees “go back to the fight – we’ll probably kill them, so that’s a good thing”.
|Al Jazeera Correspondent – Growing Up Guantanamo|