PRISON CAMPS

Sweden says freed Guantánamo captive was not suicide bomber in Bulgaria

 

crosenberg@miamiherald.com

Sweden’s security services on Thursday flatly denied that a Swedish man released from the prison camps here in 2004 was responsible for a suicide bombing of a busload of Israeli tourists at a Bulgarian port city.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been blaming Iran for the suicide attack Wednesday at the airport in the Black Sea coast holiday spot of Burgas, Bulgaria, that killed at least seven people.

But Israeli media quoted Bulgarian news reports as identifying the bomber as 33-year-old Stockholm-born Mehdi Ghezali, who according to leaked Guantánamo documents was sent back to his homeland eight years ago. According to a risk assessment provided to McClatchy Newspapers by WikiLeaks, the then-prison camps deputy commander here recommended his repatriation to further detention in Sweden on April 10, 2004.

In Stockholm, spokesmen for both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the national security services agency said separately that Ghezali had been ruled out as the bomber.

“We can confirm that it was not Mehdi Ghezali,” Mark Vadasz, head of communications for the Swedish security services told The Miami Herald on Thursday afternoon.

Vadasz, however, would not say how Swedish officials could be so certain, whether Swedish officials had seen Ghezali since the attack or definitively knew the man’s whereabouts.

“We can’t go into more details regarding that part of our operations,” said Vadasz. “But we can definitely confirm that it’s not him.”

At Guantánamo, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said the Defense Department was “looking into whether or not the person associated with this incident currently mentioned in Israeli and Bulgarian press is the same person released some eight years ago.”

Ghezali got to Guantánamo on Jan. 17, 2002, in the earliest days of the detention center when captives were confined to crude open-air cells of chain link fencing at Camp X-Ray, and according to Miami Herald documents was repatriated on July 8, 2004 at age 23.

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