Thursday, February 22, 2024

Guantanamo: Muslim man freed after 19 years without trial

Pakistani Businessman Paracha was arrested in 2003 in Thailand and accused of financing the armed group.

Saifullah Paracha, the oldest inmate at the United States-run Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba has been released to his home country Pakistan after nearly 20 years of detention without trial.

“The Foreign Ministry completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate the repatriation of Mr Paracha,” the Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Paracha is 75.

Pakistani Businessman Paracha was arrested in 2003 in Thailand and accused of financing the armed group.

In May, the US approved Paracha’s release concluding only that he was “not a continuing threat” to the US, according to Al Jazeera.

Like most prisoners at Guantanamo, Paracha was never formally charged and had little legal power to challenge his detention.

Paracha once described life at Guantánamo as “being alive in your own grave.”

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

“This is a huge win but Saifullah Paracha, 75, returns to his family a frail old man, after being taken in the prime of his life. That injustice can never be rectified,” Reprieve tweeted.

Paracha was a successful businessman and philanthropist, kidnapped by US personnel while in Thailand on a business trip, alleged the rights body.

“He was rendered to Bagram air base, a US black site notorious for horrific torture of detainees. A year later, he was flown to Guantánamo in shackles,” it said.

His health severely deteriorated during US custody, including two heart attacks.

Guantanamo, the world’s most infamous detention facility, was established in the wake of 9/11 to hold suspected al-Qaeda members captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. More than 700, mostly Muslims, were imprisoned there for more than a decade without legal means to challenge their detention.

According to Al Jazeera, of the 780 inmates held during the US’s so-called “war on terror”, 732 were released without charge. Nearly 40 prisoners remain there.

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