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Gitmo attorney counts on govt to demand citizens' release

Ahmad Saeid, Staff Writer

Kuwait Times
December 16, 2009


KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti government should put in more efforts to secure the release of the remaining two citizens who were captured by US forces shortly after Afghanistan's invasion in 2001. The attorney of a Kuwaiti detainee held at the Guantanamo Bay military spoke to the Kuwait Times on the issue. The Department of Defense Attorney, Barry Wingard, who represents detainee Fayez Al-Kandari said that the judicial process to release Al-Kanderi now faces a dead end after the prosecution 'more than doubled the number of charges that they want to use against Al-Kanderi only one week prior to the hearing of his case by a federal judge.'

According to Wingard, the US government has gathered new evidences against Al-Kandari that are allegedly classified. This means that the defense can only see it in an' extremely redacted form.'

For example," said Wingard, "one of the two charges pressed by the prosecution against Al-Kanderi is that he has 'conspired' with the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, and that he provided material support to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, without specifying how exactly he did any of these things.

The Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force asserted that 'they' are aware of their inability to prove his client guilty. "They can't get him convicted neither at federal courts, nor in military commission, which is the system that they've invented. So they will just keep him detained forever," he said.

Wingard has been representing Al-Kanderi for 14 months. He visits Al-Kanderi once every two- weeks. He said that Al-Kanderi is psychologically strong and stable. "He is amazingly strong and resilient. They tried to break him in too many different ways. They've been completely unsuccessful. He exercises, teaches the illiterate people in his block how to read, it freaks them out," Wingard said.

One of the conditions that the US government has placed on Kuwait to release its Gitmo detainees is to build a rehabilitation center. This is meant to help them reintegrate into society. Yet, despite the fact that the rehabilitation center is ready, Kuwait still has two of its citizens detained at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

I think the question now is does the US government trust the Kuwaiti government to be able to handle these two guys in this rehabilitation center that is located in the center of the Kuwaiti jail," said Wingard. He added that Kuwaitis have complained about the American demands, and that Americans have been changing their stance. They require additional conditions to be met beyond the establishment of a rehabilitation center. "I have no idea what they require," said Wingard. "But I do know that the list continues to be added on.

Wingard noted that the Kuwaiti government needs to place pressure on the US government to release its detained citizens, similar to Saudi Arabia. "The people of Kuwait need to get involved in this issue and to try to bring home Kuwait's sons because there are Kuwaiti citizens who are have been serving the ninth year in prison without any charges pressed against them." Wingard concluded.

Kevin Bogucki, attorney of the recently released Kuwaiti citizen Fouad Al-Rabiah, said that the legal tactics and procedures used to repatriate Al-Rabiah cannot be employed again. This is because the prosecution develops its strategy along the way. So attorneys, every time have to come out with a unique, new solution to release their clients. "They make every procedure as difficult and as long as possible to finish." said Bogucki.

Upon Al-Rabiah's release in September this year, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly concluded in her verdict about the evidences provided by the prosecution: "Not only did Al-Rabiah's interrogators repeatedly conclude that [Al-Rabiah's] 'confessions' were not believable, but it also undisputed that Al-Rabiah confessed to information that his interrogators obtained from either alleged eyewitnesses who are not credible and as to whom the government has now largely withdrawn any reliance, or from sources that never even existed." Also, despite repeated attempts to contact the American embassy in Kuwait, the Kuwait Times failed to elicit a response on the matter.

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