Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 11:21 UK

Guantanamo man left in Chad limbo

Mohamed el-Gharani (Photo: Reprieve)
Mohamed el-Gharani was arrested in Pakistan in 2001

A Saudi-born man held at Guantanamo for seven years has told the BBC he has been left in Chad with no papers since his release earlier this month.

Mohamed el-Gharani, whose parents are Chadian, said he had never visited Chad before and cannot speak the language, but described himself as happy.

"Walking around with no guards, with no shackles, it's beautiful," he said.

Mr Gharani was the youngest detainee at Guantanamo. He was detained in Pakistan in 2001, when he was 14 years old.

US authorities had accused him of fighting in Afghanistan and being a member of al-Qaeda as far back as 1998, according to his lawyer.

But a US court ruled in January there was no evidence to prove he was an "enemy combatant" and ordered his release.

Nationality dispute

He told the BBC's Network Africa programme that he had initially been welcomed at the airport in Chad, but had then been detained.

"I went to the police station and they kept me there for eight days - I didn't know why," he said.

If you've been in shackles for seven years every day, you will go to Chad, you will go anywhere
Mohamed el-Gharani

"I was asking every day 'Why am I here?' and they were telling me: 'You're going to see your family but we have to do paperwork.'"

He said he had been trying to get an ID card since he arrived, but so far had had no luck.

"One guy working for the government said: 'We don't know whether you're Chadian or not,'" he said.

"I said: 'Well you guys brought me here, took me from the Americans.'

"He had no answer."

But despite these difficulties, Mr Gharani said anywhere in the world was better than Guantanamo.

"If you've been in shackles for seven years every day, you will go to Chad, you will go anywhere," he said.

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