Mauritanian Guantanamo Prisoner Who Published Diary Set Free

Finally free

The Guantánamo detainee who wrote the best-selling memoir "Guantánamo Diary" has been released to his home country of Mauritania, his lawyers and the U.S. Defense Department said Monday.

A joint review board of USA security and intelligence officials cleared Slahi for release in July after determining his detention is not necessary "to protect against a continuing significant threat to the United States", the Department of Defense's Periodic Review Secretariat said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press.

His case became a cause celebre after the publication of "Guantanamo Diary" past year, in which he says he was subjected to torture.

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"I feel grateful and indebted to the people who have stood by me", Mohamedou Ould Slahi said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has helped represent him.

The Pentagon confirmed Slahi's transfer to Mauritania later Monday. "I have come to learn that goodness is transnational, transcultural, and trans-ethnic". He admits to having joined and fought with the mujahideen in the early 90s against the Soviet-backed Afghan government, and US authorities claim he helped recruit and facilitate travel for Al Qaeda fighters.

With his release, there are now 60 detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "I'm thrilled to reunite with my family", Slahi said in a statement carried by the ACLU.

Slahi, 45, was detained in his home country following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, on suspicion of involvement in an unsuccessful plot to bomb Los Angeles in 1999. Two months later, he was arrested again by Mauritanian authorities and sent to Jordan, which later transferred him to the United States.

Slahi's release leaves 60 men at Guantánamo, 20 of whom have been approved for transfer out of the prison. The bill includes language that would make it almost impossible for President Obama to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, despite the fact that national security leaders from across the political spectrum have urged the president and Congress to make shuttering this facility a top priority.

Slahi admitted to fighting alongside Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan in the early 1990s as part of the US -supported anti-communist resistance, but to justify subjecting him to extraordinary rendition, torture, and indefinite detainment, the USA accused him of involvement in a number of terror plots, including 9/11.

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