US decides to transfer Saifullah Paracha to Pakistan

He is the oldest prisoner at Guantanamo Bay
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

The United States has, in principle, decided to transfer Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay to Pakistan.

Paracha, 74, has been in Guantanamo Bay detention center since he was taken into custody from Bangkok in 2003. He was accused of having alleged links with top Al-Qaeda leadership.

The Department of State in an exclusive communique with SAMAA TV’s Investigation Unit confirmed the move.

Paracha remains in law of war detention, a State Department spokesperson told this correspondent, referring to a legal framework that the United States governments have used for holding people contrary to the law applied on American soil.

On May 13, 2021, the Periodic Review Board determined that Paracha is eligible for transfer and, accordingly, the US Government is working to identify a suitable transfer location for him,” the spokesperson said. A week later on May 21, the US authorities notified his release. Paracha who is the oldest prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre has spent more than 17 years in custody at the US base in Cuba.

On Nov. 19, 2019, the Department of Defense declassified portions of the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board for Saifullah Paracha (ISN 1094).

Paracha was never charged with a crime after he was held on suspicion of having ties to Al Qaeda. His lawyer Shelby Sullivan-Bennis did not respond to this correspondent’s queries.

A notification on his release concluded only that Paracha is “not a continuing threat” to the US.

In 2005, a federal court in New York convicted Paracha’s son, Uzair. He was accused of providing support to terrorism. He was charged, in part, based on testimony from the same witnesses held at Guantanamo whom the US relied on to justify holding his father.

Uzair, however, was released and sent back to Pakistan in March 2020 after the US government decided not to go for a retrial after a judge rejected those witness testimonies.

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