Yemen wants its Gitmo prisoners back [Archives:2007/1080/Front Page]

August 27 2007

Nadia Al-Sakkaf
SANA'A, August 26 ) Yemeni foreign minister Abu Bakr Al-Qiarbi said that Yemen insists on the return of its citizens currently detained in Guantanamo prison.

“From the very beginning we demanded that the USA hand over our citizens. We promise to treat them according to Yemeni constitution and laws and they will receive a fair trial. We have received some of them, but 102 remain.”

Al-Qirbi's statement came in response to a letter sent to Yemen Times by lawyer Marc Falkoff who is defending a number of detainees including 17 Yemenis who have been held by the United States military since January 2002. Falkoff is Professor of Law at Northern Illinois University college of Law.

In June four of the Yemeni detainees, including one of Falkoff's clients was repatriated. However, since then there had been no further action by the U.S.

In his letter he urged the Yemeni people to pressurize their leaders to insist upon the return of Yemeni citizens from Guantanamo. One of his clients, Mohammed Mohammed Hassen, remains in prison, even though he was cleared for release at least 28 months ago.

The letter states that President Bush, “would like to return your countrymen home and that he would like to close Guantanamo altogether, but that he cannot because governments like those of Yemen will not accept the prisoners back.”

Recently, during a news conference, Bush stated that “it should be a goal of the nation to shut down Guantanamo. I also made it clear that part of the delay was the reluctance of some nations to take back some of the people being held there. In other words, in order to make it work, we've got to have a place for these people to go In other words, part of the issue is the practical issue of, what do we do with the people.”

However, Al-Qirbi confirmed that Yemen has not received any correspondence from the US government since the return of the four prisoners in June regarding the release of more prisoners. He also commented that the Guantanamo Bay authorities are busy with “legal problems” concerning the legitimacy of the prison and have not taken any action towards the release of more prisoners.