Monday, October 23, 2006

10th Moroccan detainee transferred home from Guantanamo

U.S. authorities have returned a Moroccan detainee from Guantanamo Bay to his home country, but his whereabouts remain unknown, a Moroccan human rights group said Monday.

The tenth Moroccan detainee to be returned to home soil was released on Oct. 12, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Commander Chito Peppler said.

The Moroccan Association of Human Rights identified the detainee as Younes Chekouri. It confirmed he had returned to this Muslim North African kingdom, but said there was no information on his whereabouts, or whether he might face prosecution here like some other returnees.

Peppler said by telephone that Chekouri had been placed in the custody of the Moroccan government on Oct. 12, but that he did not know what awaited him after his transfer home.

Moroccan Justice Ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Of the nine Moroccan detainees released ahead of Chekouri, five have are free but charged with threatening state security, two have been conditionally released and one remains in custody.

"We demand that (former detainees) be free during their trials, and that they (the trials) be open," said Boujemaa Saadoune of the human rights group. Moroccan and international human rights organizations have leveled charges of torture against Moroccan authorities. They also allege that Morocco has taken part in CIA's program of extraordinary rendition — the U.S. transfer of foreign terror suspects to third countries without court approval.

Chekouri was arrested in Pakistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. He had fled neighboring Afghanistan where U.S. authorities claim he helped found the Moroccan Islamic Fighting Group and associated with al-Qaeda members.


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