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Agreement Reached for Release of Enemy Combatant Yaser Hamdi - 2004-09-22

The U.S. government has decided to release an American citizen classified as an enemy combatant in the war on terror and allow him to return to Saudi Arabia without facing charges. Yaser Hamdi was picked up nearly three years ago while fighting with the Taleban against American forces.

Yaser Hamdi, 21, was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. But several months into his detention as an enemy combatant, U.S. authorities learned he was not a Saudi citizen, but was actually born in the United States and was therefore an American. He was then taken out of a cell at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Bay, Cuba where hundreds of non-American enemy combatants are being held, and transferred to a navy jail in the United States where he's been detained ever since often for long periods in solitary confinement.

The arrangement allowing him to return to Saudi Arabia requires that he renounce his American citizenship and agree to travel restrictions that would prevent him from again being a threat to the United States or its allies. No charges were ever brought against him and the Justice Department says he is no longer of intelligence value to the United States.

His release follows a decision by the Supreme Court in June, which ruled that people detained as enemy combatants in the war on terror have a right to challenge their detention in American court.

The U.S. military is still holding more than 500 non-Americans as enemy combatants. But the decision to release Yaser Hamdi means only one other American is among them. Chicago-born Jose Padilla is still being detained on suspicion of plotting with al-Qaida to set off a radioactive device in the United States two years ago.