Family pleased Guantanamo detainee to go to France

7th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Guantanamo Bay detainee is due to arrive in France next week and is excited to start his new life.

WASHINGTON – The family of an Algerian national held at the US prison camp in Guantanamo for seven years is delighted he is due to arrive in France next week to start a new life.

Lakhdar Boumediene, 42, would be the first non-French citizen from Guantanamo to be taken in by France since President Barack Obama pledged to shut down the prison camp when he took office in January.

"I cannot hide the fact I am really happy. Soon, he is going to be freed," his wife Abassia Bouadjimi told AFP Wednesday from Algeria.

"He really is keen to be free, and be with his wife and children," said his sister-in-law Louiza Baghdadi, who plans to welcome him into her home in Nice, she told AFP.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said earlier in Paris that France was "finalizing details to be able to accept him in France before the end of next week."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had agreed following a meeting with Obama in Strasbourg last month to take in the detainee who was cleared for release in November.

Sarkozy applauded Obama's decision to shut down the camp that he described as an affront to US values and democracy.

"We don't combat terrorists with terrorist methods, we combat them with the methods of democracy," he said.

France had said it was ready to help Washington shut down the camp by accepting detainees but that the decision would be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Boumediene was among six Guantanamo inmates arrested in Bosnia in 2001 and initially charged with plotting to attack the US embassy in Sarajevo.

The detainee, who has staged hunger strikes while in detention, is expected to be hospitalized briefly before being reunited with Baghdadi.

More than 800 men and teenagers have passed through Guantanamo since former US president George W. Bush opened it on 11 January, 2002 to hold "war on terror" suspects in the wake of the 11 September, 2001 attacks.

Some 245 prisoners are still held at the jail located at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with around 60 of them cleared for release. Obama has vowed to close it by January 2010.

AFP / Expatica

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