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US must free Guantanamo detainee

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

A US judge has ordered the military to release a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp who was arrested in Pakistan when he was 14 years old.

Judge Richard Leon said the government had not proven that Mohamed el-Gharani, who is now 21, was a so-called "enemy combatant" and should be sent home.

The Chadian national was arrested at a mosque in Pakistan in October 2001.

His lawyer says he was accused by the US of being a member of al-Qaeda in 1998, when he would have been only 11.

The US authorities have also alleged that Mr Gharani stayed at an al-Qaeda-affiliated guest house in Afghanistan, fought in the battle of Tora Bora following the US-led invasion, and served as a courier for senior al-Qaeda operatives.

But Judge Leon said there was no evidence to support any of the allegations, and that US officials had relied mainly on information from two detainees at Guantanamo, whose reliability was questionable.

Lawyers for Mr Gharani from the legal charity, Reprieve, say there is not even any evidence that he ever went to Afghanistan.

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