12 years of harsh detention at Guantanamo Bay came to an end for a pair of Saudi citizens today, with the announcement that they are being transferred back to Saudi Arabia. Neither was ever charged with a crime.
35-year-old Muhammad Qahtani was a student who went to Afghanistan in 2001 to fight alongside the Taliban. After spending a third of his life in US custody, uncharged, he is hoping to reunite with his family and complete his education.
The other detainee, 48-year-old Hamoud Abdullah Hamoud, was actually incorrectly listed as a Yemeni for years, and both he and Qahtani were cleared for release in January 2009.
Qahtani fought briefly alongside the Taliban before fleeing to Pakistan and getting captured. Hamoud was accused of being a “money courier” for the Taliban and likewise was captured in Pakistan. It is unclear what will happen to them upon return to Saudi Arabia, but in the past the Saudis have forced released detainees to enter a “reeducation” program, whether they were accused of crimes or not.
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