Gitmo's Oldest Prisoner Goes Home

Saifullah Paracha, 75, was held for 2 decades though never charged
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2022 9:15 AM CDT
Gitmo's Oldest Prisoner Goes Home
This undated image shows Saifullah Paracha.   (Counsel to Saifullah Paracha via AP)

Saifullah Paracha no longer has the distinction of being the oldest prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. The US has released the 75-year-old back to his native Pakistan, reports NBC News. The former businessman had been held for 20 years by the US on suspicion of ties to al-Qaeda leaders including Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, though Paracha has always denied that he helped the terror organization and has never been charged, per the BBC. The New York Times notes that Paracha, who was arrested in a sting operation in his mid-50s, always stood out at Gitmo among the much younger detainees.

His attorney, Clive Stafford-Smith, tells the BBC that his client never should have been arrested in the first place. "He used to hum to me the Eagles song 'Hotel California,' where you can check out but you can never leave," says Stafford-Smith. Though his client was never charged, the US intelligence report on Paracha says he helped "facilitate financial transactions and propaganda" after the 9/11 attacks and was part of a Pakistani delegation that met with bin Laden in Afghanistan before the attacks. It wasn't clear if his release came with any restrictions. Attorney Stafford-Smith released a photo of him at a McDonald's in Pakistan. (More Guantanamo Bay stories.)

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