Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani prisoner held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, was released from the US military jail on Saturday after spending more than 18 years there, according to a statement from the Foreign Office (FO).
The 75-year-old, who was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay as the oldest prisoner despite having never been charged with a crime, was detained on suspicion of having ties to Al Qaeda. After more than 16 years in captivity at the US base in Cuba, his release was authorized in May of last year.
“The foreign ministry completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate the repatriation of Paracha. “We are glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family,” the FO statement said.
Who is Saifullah Paracha?
Paracha was a successful businessman in Pakistan who lived in the US and had real estate in New York City.
Paracha was taken prisoner by the US in Thailand in 2003, and he has been detained there since September 2004.
As of January 2020, Saifullah Paracha has been held at Guantanamo for almost eighteen years
Authorities claimed he helped two of the September 11 conspirators with a financial transaction as an Al Qaeda “facilitator” for the organization. However, despite having a number of illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, Paracha has denied any involvement in terrorism, claiming he was unaware the persons he was interacting with were members of Al-Qaeda.
However, the US has long claimed that under international laws of war, it is allowed to detain people without trial for an endless period of time.
Paracha’s son had also been arrested on the charge of helping suspected militants to get into the US through faulty documents months before his father’s arrest.
He was sentenced to 30 years in jail in 2005 by the federal court in New York, however, a judge threw out witness accounts in March 2020.
Uzair Paracha, a graduate of Pakistan’s prestigious Institute of Business Administration, was sent back to Pakistan in 2021 after the US government decided not to seek a new trial.