Oldest Guantanamo Bay victim released after 19 years of innocence
Almost 20 years later, with no evidence of him funding Al-Qaeda, Saif Ullah Paracha is released to Pakistan.
The oldest detainee in the notorious US-run Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba was released to his home country, Pakistan, on Saturday, as revealed by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and the Pentagon.
The detention facility that has occupied Cuban land till this day has hosted hundreds of men with untried allegations of terrorism during the so-called "war on terror" waged by the United States in West Asia in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in New York 21 years ago.
Saif Ullah Paracha, who is now 75, is a businessman who was detained in 2003 while he was in Thailand. He was accused of financing Al-Qaeda. However, Paracha has maintained his innocence and even claimed love for the United States, having been a student there.
Paracha was never formally charged and had little legal power to challenge his detention.
"The Foreign Ministry completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate the repatriation of Mr. Paracha," Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement on Saturday. "We are glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family."
Paracha's arrival comes after US President Joe Biden approved his release last year. Two other detainees had their releases approved as well, Pakistani national Abdul Rabbani, 55, and Yemen native Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, 41. Peculiarly, the Pakistani foreign ministry made no mention of Rabbani.
According to the US Department of Defense, Paracha was released after it was determined that his detention "was no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States".
The Pentagon thanked Pakistan for its "willingness... to support ongoing US efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility".
Biden is under pressure to clear out uncharged prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
According to a statement by the Pentagon, 35 detainees now remain at the facility, with 20 eligible for transfer and 9 still facing charges at a military tribunal.
Guantanamo Bay detainee sustained brain damage after serving as CIA live prop
Ammar Al-Baluchi, also known as Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, is a 44-year-old Pakistani citizen born in Kuwait and currently detained by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
The military prison in Cuba -- created after the September 2001 attacks to house detainees in the US' so-called "war on terror" -- is still operating despite international and local calls to close it.
A group of UN experts has repeatedly urged Washington to finally close the site of "unrelenting human rights violations".
Al-Baluchi is one of five detainees facing the death penalty on suspicion of conspiring in the terror attacks.
For years, Al-Baluchi was subjected to excessive torture at the hands of CIA interrogators who used him as a training tool for employees learning the agency's cruel and illegal practices.
He ended up suffering from brain damage after he was used as a live prop for trainee interrogators at a secret CIA black site in Afghanistan, newly declassified documents revealed.