[JURIST] An Algerian court on Sunday sentenced [AFP report] Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Ahmed Belbacha [JURIST news archive] to 20 years in prison for being part of an "overseas terrorist group." Belbacha has been cleared for release from the US military prison facility but has said he does not want to return to his home country of Algeria for fear of torture and has requested asylum in the US. Belbacha has been held in Guantanamo since 2002 after he was captured in Pakistan. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported that he tried to commit suicide [press release] while in Guantanamo but would rather stay there than return to Algeria out of fear he will be tortured. HRW said that there are approximately 60 detainees [press release] who face a credible threat of torture or persecution if they return to their home country.
Last week, an Algerian criminal court acquitted [JURIST report] former Guantanamo Bay detainees Abdulli Feghoul and Terari Mohamed who were repatriated to Algeria in August 2008. They were held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for seven years before a federal judge ordered their release [JURIST report] earlier this month. Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit remanded [JURIST report] to district court a bid by Belbacha to obtain a preliminary injunction barring his transfer back to Algeria. The court had initially stayed [JURIST report] his transfer against the urging of the Bush administration. In 2007, US Supreme Court denied [JURIST report] Belbacha's emergency request to stay his transfer to Algeria.