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US Admits to Holding the Wrong Man at Guantanamo for 13 Years

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Guantanamo detention center - Sputnik International
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The US government conceded on Tuesday to wrongly imprisoning a man in the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center for 13 years in a case of mistaken identity.

Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, 37, was held in the prison camp on the belief that he was an al-Qaida courier and trainer, when he was in fact just a low-level Islamist foot soldier. At Tuesday’s hearing on whether al-Shamiri should be released, the military conceded that they had mistaken him for someone who had a similar name.

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“Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434) fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al-Qaida members in Afghanistan,” reads an unclassified detainee profile published by the Department of Defense, though officials now say they were wrong.

“It was previously assessed that YM-434 also was an al-Qaida facilitator or courier, as well as a trainer, but we now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to YM-434’s.”

Al-Shamiri’s legal counsel has argued that he has remained cooperative and held a positive outlook through the ordeal.

“From the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo. He has a strong desire to obtain an education in order to provide for a future spouse that his family has already located for him,” al-Shamiri’s personal representative argued at the hearing.

“Mustafa will show you today that he is not a continuing significant threat to the United States of America. He is earnestly preparing for his life after Gitmo. During his time in detention, he has attended English and art classes, in addition to acquiring carpentry and cooking skills. During the last feast, Mustafa generously took the time to prepare over 30 plates of pastries for his fellow detainees. When I asked him why he would make pastries for his fellow detainees, he said it’s because it makes him feel like he can give back and share with people.”

They concluded by saying that al-Shamiri does have remorse for the path he chose,  and did not further point out that he was actually innocent and wrongfully convicted.

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“Mustafa does have remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life. He has vocalized to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chosen a different path. He wants to make a life for himself. He is aware that Yemen is not an option and he is willing to go to any country that will accept him.”

It has not yet been decided whether al-Shamiri will be released, but he has been held without charges since 2002. There are 107 prisoners left at the camp, including al-Shamiri; 47 of them have been cleared for release from as far back as 2007.

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