MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian delegation will visit the US military jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in January to meet a Russian prisoner who has been imprisoned there for over a decade, a human rights official said Friday.
The delegation will meet on January 17 with Ravil Mingazov, a Russian former soldier, said Russia’s human rights commissioner Konstantin Dolgov.
The delegation will discuss Mingazov’s detention with the aim of deciding his fate, including possibly returning him to Russia, Dolgov said.
“We will use this visit and put the question bluntly so that this special facility will be closed as soon as possible,” Dolgov said, noting that the long-discussed meeting had been delayed for “many months, if not years” because conditions for the visit had not been agreed upon with the US.
Mingazov, who was first incarcerated at Guantanamo in October 2002, has never been charged with a crime. US military documents from Guantanamo list him as a member of the “Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic Movemement of Uzbekistan,” and claim he spent time living in central Asia before linking up with Islamist militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan, where they say he received explosives training.
A judge ordered his release in May 2010 under the writ of habeas corpus, a rights safeguard in the English legal system requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into a court.
Since it was established in 2002, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp has been the target of criticism by human rights activists and many international government officials, who have condemned its controversial interrogation methods and the dubious legality of holding prisoners indefinitely without charging them with crimes.
The US has defended the prison as a necessary measure for dangerous prisoners who pose a serious threat to American and international security.
President Barack Obama promised to close down the camp while campaigning for his seat in 2008, but ran into opposition from the US Congress in negotiating the transfer of prisoners to other prisons in the US and abroad.
As of December 2013, 158 prisoners remain in Guantanamo Bay, the US Defense Department said.