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May 24, 2016

Algerian National Receives Gitmo Review Board Hearing

This morning the Periodic Review Board (PRB) held a hearing for Guantanamo detainee Said Bin Brahim Bin Umran Bakush. Bakush, a 35-year-old Algerian national, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since June 2002.

The U.S. government states that Bakush was a “trusted associate of prominent al-Qa’ida facilitator Abu Zubaydah and al-Qa’ida trainer Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.” Bakush was captured alongside Zubaydah during a raid in March 2002. The United States believes Bakush traveled to Afghanistan in the late 1990s and received training at an extremist camp, where he later served as an instructor.

Since his detention at Guantanamo began, Bakush has denied any involvement in terrorist activities and, according to the government, has not demonstrated a strong interest in being released. However, he has indicated that he would prefer to not be sent to Algeria if he is released, as he is afraid that he would be arrested immediately.

His personal representatives stated that Bakush has been very eager to participate in the Periodic Review Board process and has been a compliant detainee. This is in direct contrast to government reports of his involvement in several altercations with other detainees and guards.

If released, his personal representatives said that Bakush would like to find a woman to marry and start a family with, in addition to starting a career in long-haul truck driving. He only has a third grade level education, but has experience in a variety of jobs, including welding and baking. They are confident he would pursue a peaceful way of life and does not pose a threat to the security of the United States.

This month the Periodic Review Board has held seven hearings, with five more scheduled for the coming days and weeks—a marked increase over recent years. This is in direct response to the Department of Defense’s recently released plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which states that all initial Periodic Review Boards will be completed by this coming fall. Human Rights First strongly supports the increase in PRBs and the president’s efforts to close the detention facility.