US releases Moroccan after more than 13 years at Guantanamo prison

Authorities deport detainee Younis Chekkouri to Morocco, reducing prison's population to 115 inmates

Another Guantanamo Bay prisoner has been released as part of the drawn-out U.S. effort to close the detention center on the U.S. military base in Cuba, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Moroccan prisoner Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri was sent home to his native country after nearly 14 years at Guantanamo after a security review and notification of Congress as required under the law, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Chekkouri, 46, was captured by Pakistan in December 2001 as he fled Afghanistan with other suspected Al-Qaeda fighters and was turned over to the United States. Chekkouri had been working for a youth charity, according to human rights group Reprieve.

He has been held at Guantanamo since May 2002 and has never been charged.

Cori Crider, an attorney at Reprieve who represented Chekkouri, expressed concern that he was not immediately released upon his arrival in Morroco as expected.

"There is no reason for the Moroccan authorities to prolong Younis' detention after all he has suffered over 14 years," Crider said.

His release reduces Guantanamo’s prison population to 115, down by more than half since President Barack Obama took office and pledged to close the center.

Also on Thursday, a review board announced that it had approved the release of Faez Kandari, the last Kuwaiti at Guantanamo, to a rehabilitation center in his country. Earlier this month, it also approved the release of Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr, one of four remaining Libyans at the prison. That brings the total cleared and awaiting final approval for release to 53.

U.S. officials have recently said they are looking for potential sites inside the United States to hold Guantanamo prisoners but would need Congress to lift a ban on transferring them to the country.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press 

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