The prisoner who wrote Guantanamo Diary, a memoir recounting his daily life as a detainee in a controversial U.S. military prison, has been released from captivity after 14 years.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, 45, has gone home to his native Mauritania after spending more than a decade at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Mauritanian had been held without charges since 2002. On July 14, Ould Slahi was approved for release from the detention center at the U.S. base in Cuba.
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed his transfer Monday.
Ould Slahi became one of Guantanamo’s most prominent inmates with the 2015 publication of a prison memoir in which he described years of detention and interrogation, including being subjected to harsh techniques widely considered torture.
Ould Slahi was originally suspected of being a senior recruiter for al-Qaida. But his lawyers contended that his links to militants were limited to the early 1990s when he fought in Afghanistan with mujahideen anti-communist insurgents.
“I feel grateful and indebted to the people who have stood by me,” Ould Slahi said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union. “I have come to learn that goodness is transnational, transcultural, and trans-ethnic. I’m thrilled to reunite with my family.”
With his release, there are now 60 detainees at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That includes 19 who have been approved for release and are expected to leave in the coming months before President Barack Obama leaves office.
Obama had sought to close the detention center but was blocked by Congress, which enacted legislation forbidding the transfer of detainees to the U.S.