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Guantanamo Detainee Released To Join Relatives In France

5/15/2009 3:26 PM ET

U.S. authorities have released an Algerian detainee from detention at the Guantanamo Bay camp, and have sent him to France to re-join his family members there, said officials and news reports on Friday.

Officials said on condition of anonymity that Algerian detainee Lakhdar Boumediene was sent to France after the French government agreed to accept him as he has relatives there. They said that Boumediene was flown from the US naval base in southeastern Cuba to France, adding that his wife and two daughters, who went to Algeria after his arrest, will rejoin him there.

Boumediene was arrested along with five others in Bosnia in 2001 and was accused of conspiring to bomb the US Embassy in Sarajevo. He has been in custody ever since. He was cleared for release in November after a U.S. judge ordered the release of five of the six men over the lack of evidence supporting the accusations against them.

Three of the five Algerians ordered to be released by the judge were flown to Bosnia in December, where they were naturalized citizens. The three returned to their homes in Bosnia in December were Mustafa Ait Idir, Mohamed Nechla and Hadj Boudella.

Boumediene became famous after emerging victorious in a landmark Supreme Court case that won Guantanamo inmates the right to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

In April, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has expressed willingness to accept a prisoner from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to assist U.S. President Barack Obama in his efforts to close down the controversial prison.

Earlier, President Obama had announced his plans to close the detention center in Cuba within a year. Soon after announcing his decision, Obama had requested the military judges at the Guantanamo Bay detention center to delay the hearings at the detention center to give White House time to review the legal cases against all the terror suspects held there, and had issued an executive order to this effect.

Though the U.S. authorities have released more than 525 detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison since 2002, 244 detainees still remain in the detention camp, which was opened in late 2001 at a US naval base in Cuba soon after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Washington fears that the detainees could face persecution or torture if sent back to their home countries, and is seeking third countries to take in some of the detainees. Though several countries, including Portugal and Sweden, have expressed willingness to take in some detainees, Albania is the only country to have done so until now. Albania accepted five Uighur detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

by RTT Staff Writer

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