6 Detainees Repatriated By Military

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Six detainees were transferred this week out of the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including one detainee who was returned to Tunisian authorities over the objections of his attorneys amid fears that he will be tortured by a government known for human rights violations.

Defense Department officials announced yesterday that four men were transferred to Yemen and two others to Tunisia, bringing the detention facility's population down to approximately 375. About 75 other detainees have been cleared for release or transfer but await arrangements for their departure from Guantanamo.

Several of those detainees are slated to go to countries with questionable human rights records.

"Detainees who are cleared for transfer resulting from the annual administrative review boards depart Guantanamo once their respective governments provide credible assurances that they will be treated humanely and that the countries will take steps to mitigate the threat that these individuals pose to the United States and its allies," said Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman.

The State Department has criticized Tunisia's human rights record. One of the two men who returned to Tunisia on Sunday, Abdullah bin Omar, was convicted in absentia in the early 1990s for his alleged involvement in an Islamist opposition party and could face up to 23 years in prison.

"Abdullah bin Omar was cleared by the United States, found not to be a threat and not to have information about terrorism," said Zachary Katznelson, senior counsel for Reprieve, a British legal advocacy group representing Omar. "But the U.S. has not apologized and set him free after five years in Guantanamo. Instead, he has been shipped to Tunisia, where abuse and possibly torture await him."

A Libyan detainee who has been fighting his repatriation over fears that he will be tortured has not yet been sent to Libya. U.S. officials said yesterday that a plan to send him there has been postponed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company