Taliban report release of Afghan detainee from Guantanamo prison

Kabul, Jun 24 (EFE).- The government of Afghanistan on Friday informed of the release of Assadullah Haroon, one of the last Afghans remaining in custody in the United States’ Guantanamo prison in Cuba – over alleged links with Al Qaeda – after discussions between the Taliban and Washington.

“As a result of the efforts of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and its direct and positive intervention with the United States, one of the remaining two detainees, Assadullah Haroon, was released from Guantanamo prison,” Taliban government spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

The spokesperson said that this was part of the Islamist government’s efforts to free all of its members and citizens imprisoned in other countries.

“Today we are witnessing the release of Assadullah Haroon from Guantanamo prison and his reunion with his family years later. We would also like to thank our brother country Qatar for paving the ground in this regard,” Mujahid said, while sharing photos of the released prisoner with Taliban leaders.

The spokesperson did not reveal the details of the mechanisms involved in the release or the whereabouts of Haroon and whether he has been transferred back to Afghanistan.

The detention had already been held illegal in October by a federal judge in Washington, who had ordered Haroon’s immediate release in a classified order in response to an appeal filed by the detainee.

The Afghan man had been arrested by the US without charges or trial in 2007 and denied access to a lawyer during the first nine years of his detention, despite multiple attempts to seek legal representation according to nonprofit Reprieve, which provided legal assistance in the case.

During the 15 years of detention, Haroon suffered severe physical and psychological torture, including beatings, hanging by the wrist as well as being denied food, water and the right to pray, Reprieve said on Twitter.

Moreover, he was also subjected to sleep deprivation, extremely cold temperatures and solitary confinement.

In recent years, the US government has released dozens of Taliban members from Guantanamo, including high-ranking leaders and key figures in the negotiations which resulted in the international troops being withdrawn from Afghanistan and the Islamists eventually seizing power once again.

The Taliban government “considers this as its duty to release Afghans detained in other countries and strives to ensure that no Afghan remains oppressed in any country of the world,” Mujahid said in his statement, adding that they were already holding discussions with other countries in this regard.

Despite not acknowledging the Taliban government officially, the US has maintained practical ties with the group since it seized power, in order to coordinate tasks such as the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghan collaborators of the allies from the country. EFE


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