A Guantánamo prisoner from Algeria on Wednesday lost a last-minute legal maneuver to go home before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
A U.S. government review board approved the repatriation of 43-year-old Sufyian Barhoumi on Aug. 9.
The Periodic Review Board said although Barhoumi “presents some level of threat in light of his past activities, skills, and associations” he had been a well-behaved prisoner, lacked “extremist views” and offered the board a detailed plan for the future — to run a pizza shop near his mother in Algiers.
But Defense Secretary Ash Carter did not give final approval to his release earlier this month as required by law.
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So Barhoumi’s attorney, Shane Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, filed an emergency court petition seeking his release. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, D.C., denied the request.
Kadidal said he would probably not appeal with time running out before the inauguration.
In 2005, a Pentagon prosecutor charged Barhoumi as a member of the so-called “Faisalabad Three,” one of three men captured among a multinational band of suspected al-Qaida loyalists in a Pakistani raid in March 2002. His case collapsed amid questions of whether conspiracy or providing material support were prosecutable as violation of the laws of war.
His military defense attorney, Air Force Maj. Justin Swick, noted at the time he was cleared for release that the U.S. government had 14 years to put him on trial but “could never think of anything to charge.”
“It’s time for the charade to end. Mr. Barhoumi comes from a normal, middle-class family willing to support him and a safe, stable country willing to accept him,” the major said in August. “There are plenty of detainees in Guantánamo the American people need to worry about. Mr. Barhoumi is not one of them.”
Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg contributed to this report