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Two Pakistanis leave Guantanamo after 20 years

24-02-2023

By SJA Jafri + Bureau Report

GUANTANAMO BAY/ KARACHI: Officials from the United States have returned two Pakistani brothers to their home country after holding them for 20 years without charges at the Guantanamo Bay military prison.

Abdul, 55, and Mohammed Rabbani, 53, were the latest inmates to be released from US custody as the US moves towards emptying and shutting down the prison.

The George W Bush administration set it up at a naval base in Cuba for suspects rounded up after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

The two brothers were originally transferred to US custody after Pakistani officials arrested them in their home city of Karachi in 2002. US officials accused the two of helping al-Qaeda members with housing and other lower-level logistical support.

The brothers alleged torture while in CIA custody before being transferred to Guantanamo. US military records describe the two as providing little intelligence of value or recanting statements made during interrogations on the grounds they were obtained by physical abuse.

The US military announced their repatriation in a statement. It gave no immediate information on any conditions set by Pakistan regarding their return there.

“The United States appreciates the willingness of the Government of Pakistan and other partners to support ongoing US efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility,” the defence department said.

Guantanamo at its peak in 2003 held about 600 people whom the US considered “terrorists”. Supporters of using the detention facility for such figures contend it prevented attacks but critics say the military detention and courts subverted human rights and constitutional rights, and undermined US standing abroad.

Thirty-two detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, including 18 eligible for transfer if stable third-party countries can be found to take them, the Pentagon said.

Many are from Yemen, a country considered too plagued with war and armed groups, and too devoid of services for freed Yemeni prisoners to be sent there.

Nine of the inmates are defendants in slow-moving military-run tribunals. Two others have been convicted.

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