US releases oldest detainee from Guantanamo Bay after 17 years

The sun sets behind the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
The sun sets behind the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.

The Department of Defense announced on Saturday that it had released Saifullah Paracha from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility after 17 years.

He was successfully repatriated and moved back to Pakistan after a nearly seven week-long process to fulfill transfer requirements.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Congress Sept. 12 that Paracha would be repatriated after a review committee determined last year that his detention was “no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

Two additional detainees were determined in March 2021 to be held unnecessarily at Guantanamo, one of whom was also from Pakistan and one who was from Yemen.

None of the three detainees had been charged with a crime against the U.S.

Paracha suffered from heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure during the time he was held at the Guantanamo detention center and prior to his release was the oldest detainee there, at 75 years old.

The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Saturday announcing Paracha’s release and return home.

“The Foreign Ministry completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate repatriation of Mr. Paracha,” the statement read. “We are glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family.”

Thirty-five prisoners remain detained at Guantanamo detention center.

Twenty of the detainees are eligible for transfer, three are eligible for a Periodic Review Board, nine are undergoing the military commissions process and three more have been convicted in military commissions, according to the Pentagon.

Tags Guantanamo Bay Lloyd Austin Saifullah Paracha
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