US approved release of Pakistani prisoner Saifullah Piracha from Guantanamo Bay prison
WASHINGTON – The United States has okayed the release of Guantanamo Bay’s oldest prisoner Saifullah Paracha (73).
Suspected of having contacts with Al Qaeda, Paracha (a Pakistani) was detained in Bangkok in July 2003 and taken to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2004.
Paracha was never charged with a crime. He was cleared by a US prisoners review board along with two other men, CTV quoted Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, who represented Paracha at his hearing in November last year, as saying. Paracha’s lawyer said that he would be released in the next few months.
Detailed reasons for Paracha’s release were not disclosed. He was notified of that he had been approved for release after more than 16 years in custody at the US base in Cuba.
The notification for release concluded that Paracha is “not a continuing threat” to the US, his lawyer said.
Paracha, who lived in the US and owned property in New York City, was a Karachi-based businessman. Authorities alleged he was an al-Qaeda “facilitator” who helped two of the conspirators in the September 11 plot with a financial transaction. He says he didn’t know they were al-Qaida and denies any involvement in terrorism.
In November, Paracha, who suffers from a number of ailments including diabetes and a heart condition, made his eighth appearance before the review board, which was established under President Barack Obama to try to prevent the release of prisoners who authorities believed might engage in anti-US hostilities upon their release from Guantanamo.