17 Guantanamo Detainees Released
- 17 Falsely Accused Guantanamo Detainees Returned to Afghanistan
By Rahim Faiez
The Associated Press
Thursday 12 October 2006
Kabul, Afghanistan - Sixteen Afghans and one Iranian released
from years in captivity at Guantanamo Bay prison arrived in
Afghanistan on Thursday, an Afghan official said, maintaining
that "most" of the detainees had been falsely accused.
The 16 Afghans appeared at a news conference alongside
Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, head of Afghanistan's reconciliation
commission, which assists with the release of detainees from the
American detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the US prison
at the Bagram military base north of Kabul.
Mejadedi said many of the detainees, who are now free, had
served up to four years in Guantanamo. He said "most" of the
prisoners were innocent and had been turned in to the US military by
other Afghans because of personal disputes.
The Iranian, who also arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday, was
handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross, he said.
A US military spokesman in Kabul confirmed that 16 Afghans had
been released from Guantanamo and turned over to the Afghan
government. Lt. Marcelo Calero said he had no information about the
One of the released prisoners, Sayed Mohammead Ali Shah, said he
had been a delegate at the country's first loya jirga, a council of
leaders that helped establish the interim government in 2002 after
the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001.
"For four years they put me in jail in Cuba for nothing," said
Shah, a doctor from the eastern province of Paktia whose hands shook
from nervousness when he spoke.
"All these people (the other prisoners) and all those Afghans
still in Cuba, they are innocent," he told reporters. "All were
arrested because of false reports, and the Americans, without
investigating, they arrested innocent people and put them in jail
for a long time."
Another former prisoner, 20-year-old Habib Rahman, said he was
arrested because he had a weapon in his home.
"They told me, 'You are against us, you are anti-American and
anti-government and you are fighting with us,'" said Rahman. "At
that time in our area everyone had weapons. I was innocent and I
hadn't participated in any fighting."
Rahman said that he was treated harshly at Guantanamo, and was
once kept awake for 38 hours while being questioned about ties to
"The last time they tortured me like that was four months ago,"
he said. "They were kicking us all the time, beating us with their
Sayed Sharif Yousufy, a spokesman for the Afghan reconciliation
commission, last month said that between 90 and 110 Afghans were
still at Guantanamo, meaning that between about 74 and 94 would
still be there.
One of the released prisoners, Sadir, who only goes by one name,
said 74 Afghans remain in Guantanamo.
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