Kurnaz, 23, told the tribunal he was traveling to Pakistan with an Islamic missionary group. He said he is a religious man who pays no attention to politics and detests terrorists for violating the Koran's teachings to practice nonviolence, according to transcripts of his appearance before the tribunal, which are available in federal court.
One of the tribunal's assertions is that Kurnaz was traveling to Pakistan with Selcuk Bilgin, who Kurnaz said was a friend from his gym and who the military said is suspected of being "the Elalananutus suicide bomber."
Murat Kurnaz, 23, has been held at Guantanamo Bay since at least January 2002.
(Hurriyet Via AP)
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Military records do not make it clear what the incident was, but in November 2003, an Istanbul synagogue was bombed and suspected bomber Gokhan Elaltuntas died.
Bilgin, who is still alive and living in Germany, did not go on the trip with Kurnaz, according to German court records that are part of the tribunal process. He was detained at the airport in Germany for failing to pay a fine on his dog.
Uwe Picard, the German prosecutor who investigated the case against Bilgin, said in an interview last week that there was no evidence of Bilgin being a suicide bomber and that authorities there had to drop the case.
"We don't have proof the two wanted to go to Afghanistan or had any terrorist plans," he said through a German translator.
He said German state security agencies told him they had never heard of an Elalananutus bombing or a group by that name.
"As far as I'm concerned, this group is just a series of letters that means absolutely nothing," he said. "And as I see it, the Americans really have no reason to hold Mr. Kurnaz. That wouldn't be allowed under German law."
Staff writer Dita Smith and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.