Egypt requests release of its last citizen held at Guantanamo

Egypt requests release of its last citizen held at Guantanamo

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[JURIST] 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].