Saifullah Paracha, A Former Prisoner At Guantanamo, Has Returned To Pakistan

A statement from the Department of Defense states that Saifullah Paracha, a former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, has been returned to Pakistan.

In September, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed Congress of his intention to return Paracha, who had been held in US custody since 2003 on suspicion of having ties to al Qaeda.

“The United States appreciates the readiness of Pakistan and other allies to assist ongoing U.S. efforts focused on responsibly lowering the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

According to a statement from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paracha landed in the nation on Saturday after “an exhaustive inter-agency process was completed to facilitate Mr. Paracha’s repatriation.”

The statement said, “We are pleased that a Pakistani national incarcerated abroad has now been reunited with his family.

“Saifullah is returning to his family as a weak old man, having been stolen from them in the prime of his life,” said Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, a prisoner advocacy organisation working with Paracha. There is no way to make up for that injustice.

While in US detention, 75-year-old Paracha experienced serious health problems. According to a statement from Reprieve, he experienced his third heart attack (his second while in US captivity) in June 2020. When he was released from Guantanamo Bay, he was the oldest prisoner there.

While praising the Biden administration for freeing Paracha, Foa urged the White House to permanently close Guantanamo Bay.

The USA’s acceptance of indefinite incarceration without trial has caused enduring harm, according to Foa. “The Biden administration deserves some credit for accelerating the release of Guantanamo captives who were never charged with a crime, however,” Foa said. “When Guantánamo is permanently shut down, we can only start to fix it.”

According to the Pentagon’s statement on Saturday, 35 prisoners are still being held at Guantanamo Bay, of whom “20 are eligible for transfer, 3 are eligible for a Periodic Review Board, 9 are involved in the military commissions process, and 3 detainees have been found guilty in military commissions.”

Written by Aly Bukshi

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