UK & World News

  • 10 January 2014, 13:47

Guantanamo 'Forever' Prisoner To Be Released

A man being held at Guantanamo Bay detention centre who was previously deemed too dangerous to be freed has now been cleared for release.

Mahmud Mujahid, from Yemen, was taken to the jail for alleged terrorists after being accused of being a bodyguard of Osama bin Laden.

The 33-year-old, who has been in the facility in Cuba since it opened on January 11, 2002, was regarded as a 'forever' prisoner as it was expected he would never been released.

He has now been re-evaluated by a US government panel as part of an effort to close the prison.

The Pentagon said that a six-member board had decided Mr Mujahid no longer posed a "continuing significant threat" to the US and is eligible for transfer out of the base.

He is the first of dozens of so-called 'forever' prisoners to have his release approved.

Although he was suspected of being Bin Laden's guard and a member of al Qaeda, the US failed to prosecute him as they could not bring a case to court.

A task force set up by Barack Obama in 2010 listed him as one of 48 Guantanamo prisoners who were too dangerous to release but who could not be charged with a crime because of a lack of evidence.

Mr Obama has since directed authorities to review the cases of all the men still being held as part of a renewed effort to close the prison, where the US holds 155 men.

Mr Mujahid's lawyer, David Remes, welcomed the news.

"It's been a long time coming," he said. "He never should have been held and now after 12 years he should be reunited with his family. There is no longer any excuse for keeping him at Guantanamo."

Despite the approval, the Pentagon said no decision had been made on when Mr Mujahid would be released or to which country.

Nearly 80 other prisoners at Guantanamo have been cleared for transfer or release, of which more than 50 are from Yemen.

The Guantanamo Bay detention centre is located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, and consists of a number of detainment areas, including the notorious but now closed Camp X-Ray.

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