U.S. releases four Yemeni Guantanamo detainees [Archives:2007/1061/Front Page]

June 18 2007

By: Amel Al-Ariqi
SANA'A, June 20 ) On Monday, Yemen received four of its citizens who were detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, according to Yemen's Defense Ministry.

The four prisoners are Fawaz Noman Mahdi, Sadeq Mohammed Sa'eed, Hani Abdu Musleh Al-Badani and Ali Mussen Saleh. The United States announced that the four Yemenis, as well as two Tunisians, were being transferred back to their countries on Tuesday.

“The Yemeni government hasn't yet declared its attitude toward these returnees, whether it will rearrest them as done with previous ones or not,” commented attorney and executive director of Yemen's National Organization for Defending Human Rights and Freedoms, known as HOOD, Khalid Al-Ansi [or Anisi?], referring to former Yemeni Guantanamo detainees illegally rearrested by Yemeni security without charge.

“Yemeni security later released all of them after finding that they conducted no terror activities. However, some were tried and accused of forgery simply to justify their long term in Yemeni custody.” Said Al-Anisi.

Earlier this month, Yemen's Defense Ministry announced on its 26September.net web site that the country will receive five of its Guantanamo detainees, but thus far, there has been no information about the fifth.

A group of U.S. defense attorneys traveled to Yemen last month to urge the government to lobby more aggressively for their clients' release, following the lead of Western nations that have used diplomatic pressure to bring home their nationals.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi later said at a news conference that the nation wants its detainees handed over to be “tried according to the Yemeni Constitution and Yemeni laws.”

During his recent visit to the United States, President Ali Abdullah Saleh raised the issue of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo with U.S. officials, calling for their release, in addition to the release of Sheikh Mohammed Ali Al-Muayyad and his companion Mohammed Zayed, and removing Sheikh Abdulmajid Al-Zindani from the list of terrorists.

According to the U.S. Defense Department, following these six prisoners' release from the U.S. military base in southeast Cuba, it now holds approximately 375 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

Since Guantanamo opened in 2002, the U.S. has released approximately 405 prisoners after determining that they were not a threat, that they had no intelligence value and that their home countries would be capable of preventing them from “rejoining the fight” against the U.S. or its allies.

Approximately 80 of the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo have been cleared for transfer or release and are awaiting the above determination.