U.S. judge orders Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo freed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday ordered the Obama administration to release another Kuwaiti detainee held at the controversial U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Flags wave above the sign posted at the entrance to Camp Justice, the site of the U.S. war crimes tribunal compound, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Brennan Linsley/Pool

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered that Fouad Al Rabiah be released from the detention facility where he has been held for more than seven years on charges of conspiracy and providing material support to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The U.S. government has accused Al Rabiah, a Kuwaiti Airlines manager, of providing money to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and helping to coordinate and support Taliban fighters in the mountainous Tora Bora region in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden is believed to have escaped through the area as U.S. forces and their allies overran Taliban and al-Qaeda positions.

But Al Rabiah’s lawyers said the case was based on mistaken identity and that their client was in Afghanistan in October 2001 coordinating deliveries of aid supplies from Iran to refugees.

A Justice Department spokesman said the agency was reviewing the decision.

A U.S. federal judge ordered in late July that another Kuwaiti, Khaled Al Mutairi, be released from Guantanamo. But last month a third Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi Al Odah, had his petition to be freed from the detention camp denied.

A lawyer for Al Rabiah and Al Mutairi called for the Obama administration to send them back to their home country.

“We need the administration to respect the federal court’s decision and return our clients to the care and custody of the government of Kuwait,” said David Cynamon, their attorney.

President Barack Obama has pledged to close the Guantanamo prison by January 2010, with some detainees being released and others expected to be tried in U.S. courts or in military commissions. The prison currently holds 226 detainees.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Editing