- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Guantanamo Bay detainee who authored a best-selling book about his experiences at the U.S. detention center in Cuba has been approved for release after being held in custody there for 14 years without criminal charges.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who fought alongside al Qaeda in the early 1990s, was approved for release as a result of a determination by the Periodic Review Board, according to a copy of the report made public Wednesday. The final determination letter, dated July 14, states that “detention of the detainee is no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

Of the 76 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo Bay, 30 have been cleared for release, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We are thrilled that the PRB has cleared our client,” said Nancy Hollander, one of Mr. Slahi’s attorneys. “We will now work toward his quick release and return to the waiting arms of his loving family. This is long overdue.”

The review board’s decision cites Mr. Slahi’s “highly compliant behavior in detention,” as well as evident changes in his mindset and recognition of his past activities as factors in his release. The decision also takes into account his support network and family as well as his “robust and realistic plan for the future.”

The board did not say when Mr. Slahi would be freed from Guantanamo, where he is among 31 prisoners approved for release, or whether he would be sent back to Mauritania.

Mr. Slahi was born in Mauritania and attended school and worked as an engineer in Germany.

U.S. officials have said in military and court files that Mr. Slahi traveled in the early 1990s from Germany, where he was attending college, to Afghanistan to fight with Islamic rebels against the communist government established by the Soviet Union. He later trained with and swore allegiance to al Qaeda and had close contacts over the years with significant figures in the organization, including two men who became hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He went back to Germany and later to Mauritania in 2000 and said he had not kept in contact with members of the organization.

The U.S. government asked that Mr. Slahi be detained in 2001, and Mauritanian authorities took him into custody. The FBI questioned him in connection with, among other things, the millennium bomb plot, which included a thwarted plan to set off explosives at the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve 1999.

He was taken to a prison in Jordan for interrogations and then Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. In August 2002, he was sent to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Mr. Slahi’s book, “Guantanamo Diary,” was released last year. It documents his experiences and torture at the prison and is the only memoir published by a still-imprisoned Guantanamo detainee.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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