US & Canada

Yemeni returns home after Guantanamo Bay release

Guard tower overlooking Guantanamo detention facility
Image caption Almost 600 detainees have left the camp since 2002

A Yemeni man held at Guantanamo Bay for eight years has been sent home, the Pentagon has said.

It comes after a US court ordered the release of Mohammed Odaini, 26, saying he had no connection to al-Qaeda and had been wrongly detained.

However, the Pentagon said it was maintaining an overall ban on transferring Yemenis, because of the security situation in the country.

There are 180 remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Almost 600 have left since 2002. The administration has yet to give a timetable for closing the controversial facility.

In a ruling delivered on 26 May, US District Judge Henry Kennedy aid US government lawyers had failed to persuade him that Mr Odaini had been lawfully detained.

"The evidence before the court shows that holding Odaini in custody at such great cost to him has done nothing to make the United States more secure.

"There is no evidence that Odaini has any connection to al-Qaeda."

He also said: "Respondents have kept a young man from Yemen in detention in Cuba from age 18 to age 26.

"They have prevented him from seeing his family and denied him the opportunity to complete his studies and embark on a career."

Mr Odaini is the first Yemeni sent home since US President Barack Obama stopped repatriations, Reuters news agency reports.

The ban followed claims that a Yemeni al-Qaeda affiliate was behind a failed attempt to blow up a jet over the US on Christmas Day.

The US defence department said in a statement: "The suspension of Yemeni repatriations from Guantanamo remains in effect due to the security situation that exists there.

"However, the administration respects the decision of US federal courts, which ordered the release of Odaini."

Foreign suspects were given the right to challenge their detention at Guantanamo in the civilian courts in June 2008, by a US Supreme Court ruling.

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