WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration has sent a Kuwaiti detainee, Khaled Al Mutairi, from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, back to his home country, a Kuwaiti group said on Thursday.
Al Mutairi is the latest detainee to be freed from Guantanamo, leaving 222 prisoners there. Some of those men will also be released, while others could be tried on terrorism charges in U.S. criminal courts or in military tribunals.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
President Barack Obama has pledged to close the controversial detention facility by January 22, 2010 but administration officials have acknowledged they may not meet that goal because of legal, diplomatic and political hurdles.
Al Mutairi was taken into custody in Pakistan in 2001 after he had been to Afghanistan to build a mosque and provide aid to schools and orphans, according to the Kuwaiti Family Committee, which worked to win his release and that of other Kuwaitis.
The U.S. government had accused him of being a member of and supporting the militant groups al Qaeda and the Taliban, saying he went to Afghanistan to fight.
“We are thankful that the United States has finally returned Khaled to his family and his home,” said Khalid Al Odah, who heads the Kuwaiti Family Committee.
A U.S. district court judge ordered Al Mutairi’s release in July.
Al Odah said the Kuwaiti government has built a rehabilitation facility to provide detainees access to education, medical care and other services after their detention at Guantanamo.
The same judge last month ordered the release of another Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo, Fouad Al Rabiah, who has been detained for more than seven years on charges of conspiracy and providing material support to the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Al Rabiah’s lawyers argued it was a case of mistaken identity and the judge found the U.S. government’s case lacked credibility.
“We’re pressing the United States government to release him as soon as possible,” said David Cynamon, a lawyer for the Kuwaitis.
Another Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi Al Odah, had his petition to be released from Guantanamo denied by a federal judge.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by John O’Callaghan)