Guantanamo Detainee Fouad Al Rabiah Returned to Kuwait
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2009
United States complies with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's order
to facilitate the release of Al Rabiah
WASHINGTON, DC - The United States today released Fouad Al Rabiah to Kuwait after being held for nearly eight years at Guantanamo Bay. Al Rabiah is an innocent man who was tortured and abused while in U.S. custody.
The Government of Kuwait, one of the most steadfast allies of the United States, has been pressing for the return of Al Rabiah for months. Another Kuwaiti citizen, Khaled Al Mutairi, was sent home to Kuwait on October 8, 2009.
Al Rabiah's release also comes after his attorneys on October 13, 2009, asked a federal judge to hold U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Rear Admiral Tom Copeman in contempt for failing to comply with the court order to release Al Rabiah.
"Mr. Al Rabiah is an innocent man. His complete innocence is clearly demonstrated in the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which the United States Government has not attempted to appeal," said David Cynamon, lead attorney for the Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
"In fact, at the very outset of Mr. Al Rabiah's confinement, the United States' own expert intelligence analyst concluded Mr. Al Rabiah was an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time," Cynamon continued. "Nonetheless, this innocent citizen of one of the United States' best allies was wrongfully imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for almost eight years, during which he was tortured, abused, and coerced into making false confessions. We call upon President Obama to provide both a formal apology on behalf of the United States and appropriate compensation for Mr. Al Rabiah's ordeal. Mr. Al Rabiah can never reclaim the eight years he lost at Guantanamo Bay - and the United States must not simply turn and forget."
"Mr. Al Rabiah's release underscores the important role Federal courts play in securing justice for Guantanamo detainees," added Lieutenant Commander Kevin B. Bogucki, lead military counsel for Al Rabiah. "He is an innocent man, wrongfully charged, and wrongfully confined for eight years. Now that he is finally free, the people of Kuwait should welcome him back with open arms."
In preparation for the return of Al Rabiah and the other Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo, the Government of Kuwait has completed a state of the art rehabilitation center modeled after the successful Saudi program. The new facility will provide detainees with access to education, medical care, group discussions and physical exercise to help them recover from their long ordeal in Guantanamo.
Khalid Al Odah, head of the Kuwaiti Family Committee, said the families are very thankful for the Judge's courageous actions, the government's decision to comply with the court order, and the faithful ongoing support by the Government of Kuwait.
"We are grateful that the Court ordered the United States to release Fouad and return him to his home country, his family, and his children," said Al-Odah. "We remain hopeful that the U.S. government will serve the same justice to our remaining sons still detained at Guantanamo."
For nearly eight years, the attorneys for the Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo and the State of Kuwait sought for Al Rabiah a hearing before an impartial judge independent of the U.S. Administration to ensure due process. Al Rabiah's hearing finally took place on August 26, 2009.
Al Rabiah, 50, has an established history of international relief work. In October 2001, he was in Afghanistan coordinating delivery of more than 30 trucks of aid supplies from Meshad, Iran, to refugees on the Afghani-Iranian border and to hospitals in Kandahar. Since 1981, Al Rabiah has been a manager for Kuwait Airways and a father of four children. Judge Kollar-Kotelly on September 17, 2009, ordered the U.S. government to facilitate the release of Al Rabiah.
"We are pleased that the U.S. Government has at long last complied with the court order to return Fouad to Kuwait," Cynamon said. "The judge's opinion in Fouad's case is proof that his release is long overdue."
Two Kuwaiti detainees remain imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. One of the detainees, Fayiz al-Kandari, had his hearing in federal court during the week of October 19, 2009, but those proceedings are not yet complete. The other detainee, Fawzi Al Odah, has appealed the Federal District Court's decision that the U.S. Government has cause to detain him.
About the Kuwaiti Family Committee:
The Kuwaiti Family Committee's mission is to seek justice for the remaining Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The organization is led by Khalid Al-Odah, the father of Guantanamo detainee Fawzi Al-Odah, and includes in its membership approximately 100 relatives of the prisoners. They are only asking for due process of law for their fathers, brothers, and sons, including speedy proceedings either to release them or to charge and try them in a fair process.
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Kuwaiti Family Committee Contact:
Tel. (Kuwait) 011-965-905-6115
U.S. News Media Contact:
This press release is distributed by Levick Strategic Communications on behalf of the International Counsel Bureau. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.