Bin Laden’s freed ex-driver arrives in Yemen


Sana’a (Yemen) : The former driver of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden arrived in the Yemeni capital Wednesday after his release from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, security sources said.

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Salim Hamdan, 40, arrived on a US military plane that landed in a military base near Sana’a International Airport, the sources told DPA.

Hamdan was convicted by a US military commission in August of supporting terrorism and sentenced to five and a half years in prison. He is due for release in January with time served.

He was arrested by the US forces in Afghanistan in 2001, and transferred to the Guantanamo prison in 2002.

Interior Ministry officials said Hamdan was taken to an intelligence prison in Sana’a to serve his sentence.

Around 100 of some 250 detainees at the controversial prison camp in Guantanamo Bay are Yemenis. They have become the single largest nationality locked up in Guantanamo, as the prison’s population steadily declined from a peak of 600 in 2003.

Only 12 Yemenis have been released from the facility since it was set up in 2002. Of these, five were later released by Yemeni authorities while the rest were put on trial in Yemen for falsifying identification documents.

None was charged with terrorism-related activities.

A team of US lawyers representing Yemeni nationals detained at Guantanamo appealed to the Yemeni government last year to take visible steps to secure the release of its citizens.