Judge orders release of Guantanamo prisoner
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Monday ordered a Yemeni man released from Guantanamo Bay after seven years’ detention.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler says the United States should take all necessary diplomatic steps to release Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed. He was picked up seven years ago by Pakistani forces in a prayer house that the United States said was run by a high-ranking al-Qaida operative.
Other Guantanamo detainees have been ordered released by the courts but remain at the prison because no other country will accept them. Ahmed’s attorney Kit Pierson said he’s hopeful Yemen will allow Ahmed to return home to his family.
The judge gave the United States until June 15 to report back on the status of his release. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the decision is under review and that he can’t comment yet on whether the government will appeal.
Most of the information in the case is classified. The United States argued that Ahmed, held as detainee 692, was associated with al-Qaida and the Taliban. Unclassified documents filed in court say he traveled to Faisalabad, Pakistan, in October 2001 and stayed at an al-Qaida guesthouse for about four months before being captured during a raid on the house in March 2002 when he was 18 years old.
Ahmed’s attorneys argued he was not a member of al-Qaida or any terrorist group and had no involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They said he did not participate in any armed conflict at any time or attempt to harm any Americans before he was picked up.
“This is a young man who grew up in Yemen with no history of doing anything wrong,” Pierson said. “This is a young man who was arrested at a tough time in the fog of war and shouldn’t have been held for seven years.”