Algeria – USA: an Algerian prisoner in Guantanamo repatriated

An Algerian imprisoned in the Guantanamo detention center for nearly 20 years has been released and returned to Algeria, his native country, this is Sofiane Barhoumi, born on July 28, 1970, the latter was suspected of having been an instructor in an al-Qaeda camp.

“On February 4, 2022, Secretary of Defense (Lloyd) Austin notified Congress of his intention to repatriate Mr. Barhoumi to Algeria and, in conjunction with our Algerian partners, we have fulfilled the conditions required for a secure transfer. the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Ministry of Defense announced this Saturday, April 1, 2022 that Sofiane Barhoumi had been repatriated with the assurance of the Algerian government that he would be treated humanely there and that security measures would be imposed to reduce the risk that he could pose. again a threat in the future. The Pentagon did not provide details of those security measures, which could include travel restrictions.

A look back at the story of Sofiane Barhoumi

Sofiane Barhoumi was captured in Pakistan and taken to the US base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2002. Barhoumi was originally charged in 2005 with conspiracy to terrorism. He was accused of having been an instructor in an Al-Qaeda camp and then of having trained two Saudis in the manufacture of remote detonators.

US authorities tried to prosecute Barhoumi in 2008, but the charges were dropped due to legal challenges to the initial version of the military commission system put in place under President George W. Bush.

The United States ultimately determined he was involved with various extremist groups but was not a member of al-Qaida or the Taliban, according to a report by a prison review board that approved his release in 2016.

In the final days of Barack Obama’s presidency in January 2017, a federal judge in Washington refused to intervene in the Pentagon’s decision not to repatriate Sofiane Barhoumi, whose lawyer said he expected that his client was released and that his family had begun to prepare for his return.

The Justice Department said then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter rejected Barhoumi’s release on January 12, 2017, “based on various substantive concerns, shared by multiple agencies,” without delivering. More details.

Barhoumi, who lost four fingers in a landmine blast in Afghanistan, offered to plead guilty to all charges in 2012 in hopes he could receive a fixed sentence and return to his elderly mother, according to his lawyer, Shayana Kadidal. “Our government owes Sofiane and her mother years of their lives,” Kadidal said.

Will Guantanamo prison be closed one day?

The Biden administration, since being elected in 2021, has again been trying to reduce the number of men held at Guantanamo as part of a broader effort to shut down the facility. Before that, the former American president, Barack Obama, did not keep his word. He did not close this prison as he promised in 2008 during his presidential campaign.

Before Barhoumi’s release in early March 2022, a Saudi detainee was repatriated to his native country. Bringing the total detainees at the U.S. base in Cuba to 37 men, including 18 who have been deemed eligible for repatriation or transfer, 7 eligible for review by the Review Board and 10 others who are in awaiting trial by a military commission, among them the alleged mastermind of the 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The American government had undertaken to close, in the long term, the military prison of Guantanamo opened in 2002, after the attacks of September 11, 2001 within the framework of “the war on terrorism“.

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