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Guantanamo Prisoner Zubaydah Appears for Hearing, Seeks Release

  • VOA News

This photo provided by U.S. Central Command shows Abu Zubaydah, date and location unknown. He has appeared at a U.S. government hearing called to determine whether he should remain in detention at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This photo provided by U.S. Central Command shows Abu Zubaydah, date and location unknown. He has appeared at a U.S. government hearing called to determine whether he should remain in detention at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A suspected al-Qaida leader held in Guantanamo Bay was seen by the public Tuesday for the first time since 2002.

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian who was arrested shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks, is making a case for his release.

Zubaydah, now 45, and his attorneys have said that he poses no threat to the United States. He reportedly has said that he wants to be reunited with this family and start a business after he is reintegrated into society.

The U.S. accused Zubaydah of being one of the most senior figures in al-Qaida when he was captured in Pakistan in 2002, but has since dropped that claim.

Zubaydah fell into the CIA's secret "black site" prison network until he was moved to Guantanamo in September 2006. In more than a decade of imprisonment there, Zubaydah has never been charged with a crime.

CIA documents released in June revealed that Zubaydah was subject to "enhanced interrogation," including being waterboarded 83 times, even when interrogators told officials they believed he had no more information to offer.

A note in the documents specified that if he dies, his body will be cremated and that because of "planned psychological pressure techniques" he should remain in isolation for the rest of his life.

One of the undated documents says Zubaydah's cooperation had little correlation with the waterboarding. "In any event, there was no evidence the waterboard produced time-perishable information, which otherwise would have been unobtainable," it said.

A 2014 U.S. Senate report on the program reached a similar conclusion, saying the enhanced interrogation techniques were not an effective way to gather intelligence or gain cooperation from detainees.

According to a statement read at Tuesday's hearing by a U.S. military officer acting as his representative, Zubaydah "has stated that he has no desire or intent to harm the United states or any other country, and he has repeatedly said that the Islamic State is out of control and has gone too far."

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