Thursday, May 3, 2007

Former Guantanamo inmate walks free in Morocco

Thu May 3, 2007 7:13AM EDT
RABAT (Reuters) - A Moroccan man sent home from the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay last week was released by local authorities after terrorism-related charges were dropped, a human rights lawyer and relatives said on Thursday.
Ahmed Errachidi, 41, was arrested on his return to Morocco and appeared before a judge on Wednesday on suspicion of preparing and carrying out terrorist acts, lawyer Mohamed Sebbar told Reuters.
"The charges were dropped, he was released last night and he is now back home with his family," said Sebbar. A relative confirmed his release and return home.
Errachidi spent more than five years at the U.S. detention camp for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba before being freed without charge last week. He has a wife and two young sons living in Morocco.
Relatives say he suffers from bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, and needs to take medication regularly.
Errachidi lived in Britain for 17 years and worked as a chef in London restaurants. According to the British-based legal charity Reprieve, which represents him, he was arrested in Pakistan after traveling there in 2001 on a business venture to fund a heart operation for his younger son, Imran.
While there, he was affected by television footage of the U.S. invasion of neighboring Afghanistan and went there to try to help refugees from bombing raids, a decision his lawyers say reflected his erratic judgment caused by his illness.
Once in Afghanistan, he soon realized there was nothing he could do and it was dangerous to stay. He was detained after crossing back into Pakistan.
Pakistani officials then "sold Ahmed to the U.S. military for a bounty that was negotiated while he stood by in shackles and a hood", Reprieve said in a press release on his case.
The U.S. government has repatriated 10 Moroccans from Guantanamo in the past three years, according to lawyers.
They were charged with forming criminal gangs, forgery, illegal migration or belonging to an international terrorist organization but only one was imprisoned.
Three Moroccans remain in the maximum security prison in Cuba.