[JURIST] The last individual believed to have been still in detention after a US immigration and security sweep [US DOJ backgrounder] picked up some 1200 mostly Arab and Muslim men following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive] has been released, according to his lawyer Friday. Benamar Benatta, an Algerian, was detained when Canadian officials turned him over to the US after learning of his Muslim background and flight experience. Benatta had been in Canada seeking asylum after exceeding a six-month visa in the US. The office of the Canadian Consulate General [official website] in Buffalo, New York granted Benatta temporary residency this week and the former detainee has gone to Ontario, Canada to seek political asylum again.
Initially kept in solitary confinement for six months, Benatta was cleared of any terrorist activity in November 2001 and was charged with carrying a false ID, but that charge was dropped after a magistrate found his due process rights had been violated. He was held in custody while he appealed an order for deportation because he claimed he would be tortured or killed upon his return to Algeria as a military deserter. A United Nations [official website] human rights group which tracked Benatta's case has criticized [UN report, PDF] his continued 5-year detention as a "de facto prison sentence." AP has more.