ISLAMABAD (AP) – An Afghan detainee held in the United States for nearly 15 years has finally been released from the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the Afghan Taliban government and an international human rights group said on Friday.
The release of Asadullah Haroon Gul was announced by Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s deputy minister of culture and information, who wrote on Twitter that Gul was one of the last two Afghan detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
The United States opened the detention center under President George W. Bush in January 2002 following the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan. It was intended to detain and interrogate detainees suspected of having links to al Qaeda or the Taliban at the time. Dozens of suspects from many countries were later sent there.
The detention center became infamous following reports that detainees were humiliated and tortured there.
Mujahid said Gul was handed over to the Taliban government as a result of their talks with US authorities. “As a result of the efforts of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and its immediate and positive interaction with the United States, one of the two remaining detainees, Asadullah Harun, has been released from Guantanamo Bay,” he said on Twitter.
In some photos shared by Mujahid, Gul was seen smiling and greeting Suhail Sahin, a senior Taliban official based in Doha, Qatar.
Mujahid did not share further details about Gul’s whereabouts.
Shaheen told the Associated Press that Gul was handed over to their representatives in Doha “following an immediate engagement with the Islamic Emirate.” He said Gul was going to fly to Kabul soon. He said Gul was arrested by US forces in Jalalabad in 2007 and was later held for 15 years without trial.
Also Friday, the UK-based rights group Reprieve said Gul had been released from Guantanamo Bay without charge. In a statement, he also said that Gul was sent to Guantanamo in 2007. “His family feared he was dead for many years and for the first nine years of his captivity, he did not have access to a lawyer, despite multiple attempts to find legal representation.” , is mentioned in the announcement.
“Reprieve and the law firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss applied for a habeas corpus application in 2016, requesting his release,” he added. “Colombia District Court ruled that Asadullah’s detention was illegal because he was only a member of Hezb-e-Islami (HIA), a group that has been officially at peace since 2016 and was not a member of Al Qaeda.” . The judge thus ordered his release, he said.
According to the statement, Gul “suffered severe physical and psychological torture during his detention, including beatings, hanging from his wrists, deprivation of food and water, and being prevented from praying. He has been subjected to sleep deprivation, extreme low temperatures and isolation. “
Commenting on Gul’s release, Reprieve’s lawyer Mark Maher said that Gul “lost all of his daughter’s childhood and will never get back what was taken from him, but is now at least able to rebuild his life.” with his family. who have been waiting so long to see him. “