US releases Moroccan after more than 13 years at Guantanamo

FILE - In this May 31, 2009 pool-file photo reviewed by the U.S. military and shot through a window, a guard wearing a protective face mask speaks with a detainee through a fence as another paces inside the exercise yard at Camp five detention facility on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. The Obama Administration’s struggling crusade to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is mired in state and federal politics, and frustrated White House and Pentagon officials are blaming each other for the slow progress releasing approved detainees and finding a new prison to house the remainder. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool, File)


MIAMI (AP) — Another Guantanamo Bay prisoner has been released as part of the drawn-out U.S. effort to close the detention center on the U.S. base in Cuba, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Moroccan prisoner Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri was sent home to his native country after nearly 14 years at Guantanamo after a security review and notification of Congress as required under the law, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Chekkouri, 46, was captured by Pakistan in December 2001 as he fled Afghanistan with other suspected al-Qaida fighters and was turned over to the United States. He has been held at Guantanamo since May 2002 and has never been charged.

Cori Crider, an attorney for Chekkouri from the human rights group Reprieve, expressed concern that he was not immediately released upon his arrival in Morroco as expected.

“There is no reason for the Moroccan authorities to prolong Younous’ detention after all he has suffered over 14 years,” Crider said.

His release reduces prison population to 115, down by more than half since President Barack Obama took office and pledged to close the prison.

U.S. officials have recently said they are looking for potential sites inside the U.S. to hold Guantanamo prisoners but would need Congress to lift a ban on transferring them to the United States.

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