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Guantanamo detainee demands release following Afghanistan pull out

Kuwaiti Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainee Fawzi Odah filed suit on Monday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] alleging that he should be freed from prison upon US withdrawal from Afghanistan, citing international law's mandate that prisoners of war be released once a conflict has ended. Odah has based his claim on US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address [text] last week in which he stated that "by the end of the year, America's longest war will finally be over." However, officials from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] responded [LAT report] by asserting that US troops are still in Afghanistan, and the completion of operations is unknown at this time.

This legal challenge is the most recent in a string of attempts by Odah to free himself from incarceration. In July 2012 a Kuwaiti lawyer filed suit [JURIST report] against Kuwait's prime minister and other government officials in order to pressure authorities to facilitate the release of Odah and fellow inmate Faiz Kandari. Other Kuwaiti prisoners have been successful in obtaining transfer to their home country from the Guantanamo detention facility. In December 2009 the DOJ announced that detainee Fouad al Rabiah had been transferred to the Kuwaiti government [JURIST report]. Al Rabiah, a Kuwaiti national, had been held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly eight years under suspicion of aiding al Qaeda and the Taliban. Two months earlier the DOJ announced that detainee Khaled Al-Mutairi had been transferred after his almost eight years of detention [JURIST report]. Al-Mutairi, who had been accused of fighting against American troops in Afghanistan, was transferred after the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered his release [JURIST report] in July 2009.

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