Yemen releases Osama bin Laden’s ex-driver

January 11th, 2009 - 2:32 am ICT by IANS  

Sana’a (Yemen), Jan 11 (DPA) Yemeni authorities have released the former driver of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden nearly two weeks after he was released from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a family source said Saturday.The source told DPA that Salim Hamdan, 40, was released from the intelligence prison in the capital Sana’a late Thursday. Security officials confirmed Hamdan’s release, but they refused to give further details.

The US military transferred Hamdan to Yemen Nov 26 to serve out the rest of his five-year sentence.

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

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

In November, government officials said Hamdan would be sent through a rehabilitation programme which included dialogue with religious scholars.

About 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.

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