Detainee who won Guantanamo habeas case to go to France

The Miami HeraldMay 6, 2009 

France says it will take in an Algerian who has been held prisoner by the United States at Guantanamo Bay for the past seven years.

Lakhdar Boumediene, 43, was arrested along with five other Algerians in 2001 in Bosnia, suspected in a bomb attack plot against the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo.

A U.S. federal judge ruled in November that the evidence against Boumediene was not credible and ordered him set free.

He arrived in Guantanamo in January 2002, and has been on a hunger strike to protest his detention since Christmas 2006. His attorney says the five-foot, nine-inch detainee, who now weighs 130 pounds, is fed daily a nutritional shake through a tube that U.S. military medical personal snake up his nose and into his stomach.

France's Foreign Ministry did not say Wednesday why Boumediene was not going back to Algeria or when Boumediene would be transferred from the base in southeast Cuba.

President Barack Obama has promised to close the prison at Guantanamo by Jan. 22, and has urged other countries to help take prisoners from there.

France agreed to accept Guantanamo prisoners when Obama attended the NATO summit in April.

Boumediene's lawyers say he has sisters-in-law and nieces or nephews living in the south of France who can help him resettle there. His wife and children moved back to Algeria after his detention in Sarajevo.

Boumediene's case may be better known than some of the other Guantanamo detainees because it was in his name that civil liberties attorneys argued at the U.S. Supreme Court the most recent case of the captives' rights to seek their release through habeas corpus petitions.

The court ruled for the detainees in Boumediene v. Bush.

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