From daily The Guardian in Britain:
US releases four Guantánamo Bay prisoners to Afghanistan
Martin Pengelly in New York and agencies
Saturday 20 December 2014 17.52 GMT
The men, who had been in the camp for more than 10 years, were named as Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir. They had been cleared for transfer for some time and are not considered to represent security risks in Afghanistan, where US troops are still deployed.
A US official told Reuters the men were flown to Kabul overnight, aboard a US military plane, and released to Afghan authorities in the first such transfer since 2009. The official said the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, had requested the transfer.
The release of the men reduces the number of inmates held at Guantánamo to 132, eight of whom are from Afghanistan.
Khan, 51, was sent to Guantánamo 11 years ago “on the flimsiest of allegations”, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. His lawyers said he had been a driver for the Hamid Karzai government.
According to a database compiled by the New York Times and National Public Radio, Gul, 51, was arrested in 2002 and accused of being a Taliban intelligence officer. He said he never worked for the group and that two of his “enemies” had turned him over to US troops.
Ghani, 42, was captured in 2002 as a suspected member of a Taliban-linked faction and was originally accused of “war crimes”. He said someone falsely accused him of carrying out a rocket attack; he was cleared by an inter-agency review.
Zahir, 61, was arrested in 2003 and accused of links to Taliban weapons caches, but he denied any connection and was also cleared for transfer.
A Pentagon statement said the men had been “unanimously approved for transfer” by an inter-agency task force and that the secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, had informed Congress of the decision to release them.
According to the Associated Press, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, had opposed the release. Officials said Campbell and all military leaders on the ground had now screened the move. The AP also reported that an official involved in the review said most of the terrorism accusations against the men had been discarded.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order to close Guantánamo in January 2009.
Earlier this month, six inmates were released to Uruguay.
Among the men released to Uruguay was Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian man who is challenging in court the Obama administration’s use of force-feeding at the base.
Want to know the reality of US torture? Ask Shaker Aamer: here.