the dean of prisoners is released at 75 – Liberation

The attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United Statescase

Pakistani Saifullah Paracha, dean of Guantánamo prisoners, was released and returned to his country on Saturday, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and the Pentagon announced.

Aged 75, Saifullah Paracha regains freedom. The dean of Guantánamo prisoners (Cuba) returned home to Pakistan on Saturday, more than 13,000 kilometers from his old cell. The businessman had studied in the United States and owned an import-export business supplying major American retailers before his abduction and arrest in Thailand in 2003. He had been accused of helping finance a Al-Qaeda. Held without charge since, like most other prisoners, he proclaimed his innocence and professed his love for the United States.

The Guantánamo prison was opened in 2002 in American territory on the island of Cuba to detain members of the jihadist group Al-Qaeda and alleged accomplices of the perpetrators of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Become a thorn in the side of Washington, accused of unlawful detention, human rights violations and torture, the prison counted up to nearly 800 “prisoners of war”, most incarcerated despite flimsy evidence of their involvement. Today there are only about forty left.

US authorities had accused Saifullah Paracha of having had contact with al-Qaeda officials, including Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In 2008, Saifullah Paracha’s lawyer said the businessman had met Osama bin Laden in 1999 and then again a year later in connection with the production of a television program.

His release was approved in May 2021 by a White House commission alongside those of Abdul Rabbani, 55, also of Pakistani nationality, and Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, 41 and from Yemen. In a press release, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains that it has finalized “a complete process between administrations to facilitate the repatriation of Mr. Paracha”.

“We are happy that a Pakistani citizen imprisoned abroad is finally reunited with his family”, adds the press release which does not mention Abdul Rabbani. The US Department of Defense explained that Saifullah Parsha was released after establishing that his detention “was no longer necessary to protect against a significant and persistent threat to the security of the United States”.

The Pentagon also thanked Pakistan for its “will […] to support the efforts of the United States to responsibly reduce the number of detainees and ultimately close the Guantánamo center”. US President Joe Biden faces pressure to release uncharged Guantánamo detainees and hold trials for those accused of having links to Al-Qaeda.

Many prisoners have already been repatriated to their country of origin or transferred to a third country. Among the forty prisoners remaining at Guantánamo are a number of men accused of having taken an active part in the planning and execution of the attacks of September 11 as well as other attacks by Al-Qaeda.

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