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Egypt requests release of its last citizen held at Guantanamo

The Egyptian government announced Thursday that it has requested the release of the last of its citizens currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detention facility. Egyptian Tarek al-Sawah, 54, has been held at Guantanamo for 11 years [AP report] without charges or trial. Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel requested al-Sawah's release in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official website]. In announcing the request the Foreign Ministry noted that al-Sawah's prior charges of supporting terrorist groups in Afghanistan were dropped by the US military prosecutors and that the Egyptian government will appoint a US lawyer [Reuters report] specializing in the rights of Guantanamo prisoners to defend al-Sawah. Since President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was sworn in a few weeks ago the Muslim Brotherhood-led administration has sought freedom for many Egyptians internationally jailed for Islamist militancy.

Last month Morsi ordered the release of 572 individuals in Egypt [JURIST report] who had been convicted by the military. Morsi, Egypt's first elected civilian president, had formed a committee to review all the cases of prisoners who had been sentenced by military courts since the beginning of the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] last year. Earlier that month Morsi appointing a fact-finding committee to investigate the deaths of protesters [JURIST report] in last year's demonstrations that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive]. A few days after he was sworn in, Morsi issued a decree [JURIST reports] calling the dissolved Egyptian parliament back into session, despite a previous ruling by the country's Supreme Constitutional Court [official website] dissolving it due to its finding that one-third of its members were elected illegally [JURIST report]. The court suspended Morsi's decree two days later, after which Morsi vowed that he would respect the ruling [JURIST reports].

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