Tuesday, 25 August 2009

U.S releases Afghan Guantanamo detainee after six years in jail

Former Guantanamo detainee, Mohammad Jawad, returns to his family in Afghanistan after being released by the U.S.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AUGUST 25, 2009) REUTERS- The Obama administration on Monday (August 24) released a detainee from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sent him home to Afghanistan, the latest departure from the controversial prison that is set to close in five months.
Mohammed Jawad was accused of throwing a grenade that injured two U.S. soldiers and their interpreter in Kabul in 2002.

In the Jawad case, he was arrested in 2002 and his lawyers argued that he was only 12 years old. The Pentagon disputed that and has said bone scans suggested he was 18 when he was sent to Guantanamo in early 2003.

His situation was particularly difficult for the Obama administration not just because he was so young, but also because much of the evidence against him had been thrown out because two judges said it was obtained through torture.

In July this year, Judge Ellen Huvelle ordered him released from Guantanamo, where he was held for more than six years. U.S. Justice Department officials have said they were considering trying to prosecute Jawad in a U.S. federal court, but no charges have been filed.

While prosecutors have said they have new evidence against him, Jawad's lawyers dispute that.

Jawad was reunited his family in Kabul and spoke about his ordeal in Guantanamo Bay.

"There was a lot of oppression when I was in Guantanamo and this inhuman action was not for one day, one week or one month. I was oppressed for all the time I was there, until I was released, They humiliated all the prisoners very badly. They would insult our religion and our holy Koran, they were insulting us and behaving in quite an inhuman way. They tortured prisoners very badly and did not allow prisoners to sleep and did not give enough food. A lot of prisoners got sick, the treatment was very inhuman which is against the laws of all countries, though they knew that I was under age and they did not care about my age either."

Jawad is the latest detainee to be released from the facility, which President Barack Obama has promised to close by mid-January 2010. However, some lawmakers question whether he can deal with the remaining 228 prisoners there by then.

"I remember that the U.S. government lawyer provided all the evidence against, me but could not prove anything and at the end the judge said no charge had been proven on Mohammad Jawad and he is innocent," said Jawad.

According to one of his lawyers, Air Force Major David Frakt, Jawad is scheduled to meet with President Hamid Karzai later on Tuesday.

Jawad's family and relatives expressed gratitude for his release and thanked the government of Afghanistan for the efforts made to release him.

"We are all happy that he is released now from Guantanamo," said Gull Nik, Jawad's uncle.

The Obama administration expects to put some of the detainees on trial in U.S. courts or military commissions. But many are expected to be sent home or resettled in other countries because they could face persecution in their home countries.

In June, three detainees were sent to Saudi Arabia, one went home to Chad and another to Iraq. Four Chinese Muslim Uighurs held at Guantanamo were resettled in June in Bermuda because they feared persecution back home in China.