August 29, 2006

Saudi Arabia releases 9 Guantanamo returnees

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has released 9 former
inmates of Guantanamo Bay where they were being held on
suspicion of belonging to al Qaeda, an official said on

The United States this year sent 29 Saudis back home after
negotiating a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia for the
return of its citizens. Saudi officials had said they were
reviewing whether they should face charges in their homeland.

"Nine of them have been released. They were investigated
and we didn't find any wrongdoing in relation to local laws,"
said Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki.

"There is no evidence (against them)," he said, adding that
there is no agreement with Washington obliging Saudi Arabia to
keep them incarcerated. He gave no more details.

About 95 of the 450 men still held at Guantanamo are Saudi
citizens and the government has said it hopes to bring all of
them back within a year.

Many of the men held at the prison in Cuba were captured in
Afghanistan in the U.S.-led war to oust the Taliban after al
Qaeda carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks against U.S.

Two Saudis are among 10 Guantanamo prisoners who have been
charged with war crimes in a tribunal system which the U.S.
Supreme Court struck down in June.

Public anger over the treatment of the Saudi detainees has
been high. Two Saudis were among the three prisoners who hanged
themselves in June at the controversial prison, which lies
outside the jurisdiction of international law.

Many Saudis suspect they died from maltreatment.

The authorities have organized a wedding for one of the
returnees and have supported the education of their children.