Surgeon to be Released from Guantánamo after 7 Years

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Ayman Saeed Batarfi, an orthopedic surgeon from Yemen, is set to become the second prisoner released from Guantánamo Bay by a Justice Department task force. The government agreed last Friday to let Batarfi go after holding him for seven years. The Bush administration accused him of assisting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Batarfi, who met Osama bin Laden twice, says that he was on a humanitarian aid mission. Wounded, he asked Afghan forces to turn him over to U.S. forces in hopes that he would receive better medical treatment. Instead, on January 27, 2002, the Americans put him in prison at the Bagram Air Base, and then shipped him to Guantánamo in the spring of 2002. It is not known where Batarfi will go after his release. Even though he is from Yemen, the U.S. government prefers not to send him back to his home country, which lacks a “sound rehabilitation system,” according to officials.

Batarfi’s release follows that of Guantánamo inmate Binyam Mohamed, who was transferred to the United Kingdom in February. Last week, two British High Court judges said American military prosecutors pressured Mohamed into pleading guilty to unspecified charges and signing a statement saying he wasn’t tortured and wouldn’t sue the U.S. government over being held captive. Mohamed refused.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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