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Evidence Of Innocence Rejected at Guantanamo

Combatant Status Review Tribunals, created by the Pentagon, have overwhelmingly supported continued detention of those at Guantanamo Bay.
Combatant Status Review Tribunals, created by the Pentagon, have overwhelmingly supported continued detention of those at Guantanamo Bay. (Photos By Brennan Linsley -- Associated Press)

"However the record in Kurnaz is interpreted, it definitively establishes that the detainee was not provided with a fair opportunity to contest the material allegations against him," Green wrote. Until recently, much of her denunciation was classified, by a court security office relying on Pentagon and Justice Department officials for advice on what to conceal from the public.

In January 2006, another military review panel decided once again that Kurnaz was still "a danger" and should remain at Guantanamo Bay. Internal Defense Department e-mails show that this administrative review board, roughly comparable to a parole board, did not look at the material that Kurnaz's lawyer had submitted to make its decision.

After a public uproar in Germany over the German government's role in Kurnaz's continuing imprisonment, Merkel pressed Bush at a private meeting that January to release him. In July 2006, an unusual second review board convened.

The FBI's counterterrorism division, new records show, wrote in a memo dated May 31, 2006, for that board that "the FBI has no investigative interest in this detainee" and that "there is no information that Kurnaz received any military training or is associated with the Taliban or al-Qa'ida." The wording of its brief conclusion about whether Kurnaz posed any threat was redacted.

The second review board ruled that Kurnaz was no longer an enemy combatant and that he could be released, but the reasons remain redacted.

Not until August 2006, nearly five years after his imprisonment began, was Kurnaz flown home, goggled, masked and bound, as he had been when he was flown to Guantanamo Bay. As U.S. military officials led him out of Ramstein Air Base, and as he was about to take his first steps onto German soil, the Americans offered to leave plastic wrist cuffs on their former prisoner. German federal police declined.

He was escorted as a free man to the back seat of a Mercedes-Benz sedan for the short ride to his reunion with his parents and two younger brothers.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


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