Guantanamo’s oldest inmate Saifullah Paracha freed after 19 years | News

Businessman Saifullah Paracha, who was arrested in 2003 and charged with funding al-Qaeda, has never been charged like most prisoners.

The oldest US-run inmate Guantanamo Bay Cuba’s Saifullah Paracha detention facility has been released to his home country of Pakistan after nearly 20 years of detention without trial, the South Asian country’s foreign ministry said.

“The State Department has completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate the repatriation of Mr. Paracha,” the ministry said. said in a statement on Saturday.

“We are delighted that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family.”

The businessman Paracha was arrested in 2003 in Thailand and accused of providing financial support to the armed group, but he remained clean and affirmed his love for America.

In May, the United States approved the release of Paracha only concluding that he was “not a continuing threat” to the United States.

Like most prisoners at Guantanamo, Paracha – aged 74 or 75 – has never been formally charged and has little legal power to challenge his detention.

The secret US military prison was established after 9/11 to detain suspects al Qaeda members captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

But of the 780 prisoners held in the US’s so-called “war on terror”, 732 have been released without charge. Many of them have been jailed for more than a decade with no legal means to challenge their detention.

Nearly 40 prisoners are still in The most notorious detention facility in the worldwhich has become a symbol of human rights violations.

Map showing the location of Guantanamo Bay
(Al Jazeera)

Paracha’s return to home on Saturday comes after US President Joe Biden last year approved his release, along with another Pakistani national, Abdul Rabbani, 55, and Uthman Abdul al-Rahim. Uthman, 41 years old, of Yemeni descent.

Biden is under pressure to release unconvicted detainees at Guantanamo and proceed to trial for those accused of direct al-Qaeda ties.

Among the approximately 40 remaining prisoners are several men believed to have had a direct role in 9/11 and other al-Qaeda attacks.

Paracha, who studied in the US, did import and export business supplying major US retailers.

US authorities accused him of having links to al-Qaeda figures, including Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In 2008, Paracha’s attorney said the businessman met bin Laden in 1999, and a year later, in connection with the production of a television show.

Reprieve, a UK-based human rights charity, described Paracha as a “prisoner forever”.

Since it first opened, Guantanamo has become famous for its human rights violations and the fact that the US government did not consider its prisoners to be entitled to any protection under international law.

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