US & Canada

Guantanamo Bay prisoner victim of mistaken identity, says US

Guantanamo Bay Image copyright AFP
Image caption The prisoner has been held without charge for 13 years

A Guantanamo Bay prisoner locked up for 13 years has been found to be a victim of mistaken identity, originally thought to be a member of al-Qaeda.

US officials said in a new report that Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was a low-level Islamic fighter rather than a significant member of the group.

The 37-year-old Yemeni, who has been held without charge, appeared before a board on Tuesday.

He is one of 107 prisoners at the base where nearly 50 are awaiting release.

Captured in Afghanistan and imprisoned as an enemy combatant, his release has not been approved yet.

A detailed profile of him finds he was an Islamic fighter who fought for jihadists in Afghanistan and was associated with al-Qaeda members, but US officials said they were wrong in thinking he was a trainer for the group, confusing him for someone else with a similar name.

"He vocalised to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chosen a different path," representatives for Al-Shamiri appointed by the US government said in a statement. "He wants to make a life for himself."

His representatives said he would go to any country that would accept him.

It is likely that Al-Shamiri could not be sent back to Yemen because the US believes it is too unstable to house past Guantanamo prisoners.

President Obama is determined to shut down the prison before the end of his term in 2017, but faces bipartisan opposition in Congress.

The US has slowly been sending prisoners back to their home countries or to third countries.

The camp was established in 2002 by the Bush administration to detain the most dangerous suspects for interrogation and the prosecution of war crimes.

Controversy has centred on the period of time detainees have been held without charge and the use of interrogation techniques.

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