Bin Al-Shaibah set for trialEight Prisoners said to be cleared at Guantanamo [Archives:2008/1129/Front Page]

February 14 2008

Sarah Wolff
SANA'A, Feb. 13 ) Eight Yemeni men prepare to return home from Guantanamo Bay prison as another faces a highly-publicized military trial in the United States.

According to Marc Falkoff, a law professor at Northern Illinois Univeristy in the U.S. and acting lawyer for two “cleared” Yemeni inmates, the most recent list of repatriation-ready prisoners includes eight Yemeni nationals. Falkoff also says that two of his clients, Mohammed Hassen and Adil Busayss, “have been cleared for release for literally years.”

Besides Falkoff's two clients, the prisoners who are rumored to be cleared include Abdul Rahman Qyati, Mohammed Bin Salem, Mahmoud Bin Atef, Ali Yahya Al-Rimi, Asim Al-Khalaqi and Fahed Ghazi.

Though these men are eligible to leave the Guantanamo Bay facility, they currently remain in U.S. military custody and the reasons behind their delayed return is unclear. There are currently 70 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay military prison who are eligible for release, but the U.S. will not confirm these detainees' nationalities, said Jeffrey Gordan, an employee of the U.S. Department of Defense's public contact office.

“There is a link missing between the U.S. and Yemeni governments,” said Khalid Al-Anesi, a lawyer and the director of Hood, an organization that advocates for Yemeni prisoners in the U.S. system. “We think that the Yemeni government is not serious about this issue.”

Al-Anesi also claimed that there had been no serious negotiations for the prisoners' release before this month, when President Saleh handed over a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen demanding the prisoners' release.

“For six years, we didn't hear anything,” he said. “The government didn't send any officials [to the U.S.] to negotiate. This is a responsibility of the government.”

“We are working with the government of Yemen to have a delegation of Yemeni officials go to Guantanamo to interview the remaining Yemeni detainees, determine their certain identities and nationalities and work with us on a way to return them to Yemen,” said Stephen Seche, the American Ambassador to Yemen, last month. “The point is to cooperate with the Yemeni government to insure the proper treatment of these individuals as they return, whether they need to be incarcerated or rehabilitated.”

However, the kind of measures the Yemeni government takes to insure that the former prisoners do not return to terrorist or extremist activities has remained a sticking point between the two countries.

Members of Yemen's parliament and human rights groups had different visions of what must be done to return these citizens to Yemen, but they agreed that the detainees should be repatriated as soon as possible.

“They [America] do not accept to give our detainees over as they have to the other countries like Saudi Arabia,” Bassam Al-Shatir, a member of the parliamentary committee reviewing the detainees status.

Al-Shatir added that richer countries have the ability to rehabilitate their detainees financially and socially, but that Yemen's economic situation is deteriorating, and Yemen's programs will be hampered by this.

Still, said Al-Shatir, the Yemeni government will rehabilitate as much as possible with their limited abilities.

According to recent estimates by international media sources, there are nearly 100 Yemenis still held at Guantanamo Bay. Because of this, Yemenis have replaced Saudi Arabians and Afghanis as Guantanamo's single largest group of prisoners from any one country. Continued on page 3

Additionally, the U.S. government released news this week that six “high-priority” detainees are having their cases prepared for military trial in the next few months. Ramzi Bin Al-Shaibah (sometimes referred to as Bin Al-Shibh), a Yemeni, is one of these high-priority detainees who will go on trial.

U.S. Diplomatic sources confirmed that Bin Al-Shaibah along with the five other prisoners will be tried for capital crimes, meaning that if they are found guilty, they will be eligible for the death penalty.

Al-Anesi said that Bin Al-Shaibah's case has already been tried in the court of public opinion, especially in the U.S.

“He is guilty without any trial because of what the administration has given the media to publish in the last few years,” said Al-Anesi. “He should have an international court trial by judge, not by jury.”

Both Falkoff and Al-Anesi felt that Bin Al-Shaibah's military trial would not be a fair one.