October 30, 2015 / 11:03 AM / 4 years ago

Mauritania will not prosecute repatriated Guantanamo detainee

NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - A Guantanamo Bay detainee from Mauritania released this week by U.S. military authorities has rejoined his family and will not face prosecution in the West African nation, the Mauritanian government said.

Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz was flown to Mauritania on Wednesday after a review board unanimously approved his release from the prison camp at the U.S. naval base in Cuba where terrorism suspects are detained.

“Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz officially returned to his family Thursday,” government spokesman Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheikh said in a statement late on Thursday. “No prosecution will be brought against the prisoner.”

A Pentagon statement announcing his release did not give details about where and when Abdel Aziz was captured or what he was accused of.

However, a 2008 U.S. Defense Department detainee assessment published by Wikileaks said Abdel Aziz, 45, was captured on June 5, 2002 when Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate raided a suspected al Qaeda safe house in Karachi.

The document said he swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 1999, was a close associate of the al Qaeda leader’s religious adviser Mahfouz Ould al-Walid and fought on the frontlines in Afghanistan.

It said Abdel Aziz was considered high risk “as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests, and allies”, but also said that he had steadfastly denied belonging to al Qaeda or any involvement in terrorist operations.

“Detainee had access to information of significant intelligence value, but has been uncooperative with interrogators and remains largely unexploited,” the defense department document stated.

Washington is seeking to close the Guantanamo Bay facility where most detainees have been held without trial for more than a decade and which has drawn international condemnation for the harsh treatment of foreign terrorism suspects.

The Pentagon statement on Thursday said that 113 detainees remain at Guantanamo, which was set up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The last British resident to be held at the U.S. prison camp in the Guantanamo Bay navy station in Cuba, has been freed after 13 years in detention, Britain said on Friday.

(This story has been refiled to remove extraneous word in headline)

Reporting by Kissima Diagana; Additional reporting and writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Louise Ireland

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