15:05 GMT14 May 2021
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    A prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been cleared for release after leading a nine-year hunger strike, according to a government review board.

    Abdul Rahman Shalabi will now be allowed to return to his native country of Saudi Arabia, where he will enter a rehabilitation program for militants and become subject to monitoring afterward. Shalabi was imprisoned in 2002 without a charge. He is suspected of having been Osama bin Laden’s body guard as well as having ties to al Qaeda's external operations leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is facing trial by military commission at Guantánamo.

    The Periodic Review Board, which was created by the Obama administration as part of an effort to shut down the Guantánamo prison, announced his release Friday.

    According to the board’s statement, "The Board acknowledges the detainee's past terrorist-related activities and connections. However, it continues, in light of the factors and conditions of the transfer…the risk the detainee presents can be adequately mitigated. The detainee does not appear to be in contact with any extremists and his family has no known ties to extremism."

    According to the Associated Press, 52 out of 116 prisoners at Guántanamo have been cleared for release including Tariq Ba Odah, another prisoner who initiated a hunger strike.

    Defense lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights released a statement saying, “Mr. Ba Odah has been imprisoned at Guantánamo for 13 years, and yet despite the fact that he was cleared for release by top U.S. security agencies more than five years ago, the U.S. has refused to repatriate him to Saudi Arabia where his family resides or resettle him in a third country.”

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    Tags:
    Gitmo, Guantanamo Bay detention center, khalid sheikh mohammed, Abdul Rahman Shalabi, Saudi Arabia, Guantanamo Bay
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