France says no plan to allow Guantanamo inmate to return

10th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

France has no plans to allow an Algerian-born Guantanamo inmate to return to France, where he grew up, the foreign ministry said on Friday, despite an appeal to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"It is not planned that France will receive a third detainee," spokeswoman Christine Fages said after Nabil Hadjarad, 31, wrote to Sarkozy asking if he could come to France after eight years at the US detention facility on Cuba.

"France has already welcomed onto its soil two former Guantanamo detainees. In 2009, these two men, Lakhdar Doumediene and Saber Lahmar, were authorised to come and live in France," she said.

In July, French Communist MP Andre Gerin urged Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to allow Hadjarad to return to France, pointing out that he was raised in France by his uncle after his father died in 1994.

"The uncle has French nationality, considers Nabil to be like his own son and is ready to look after him," Gerin wrote, saying he had been cleared by US authorities of suspected terrorism in 2007.

A spokeswoman for legal support group Reprieve, which is representing Hadjarad, said they still hoped that Sarkozy would respond favourably to his request to return to France.

"Reprieve still hopes that, upon serious consideration of Nabil's letter, President Sarkozy will give him a chance to rebuild his life with his family in France," Tara Murray told AFP by telephone from London.

"He is the one who has all of the ties to France, his family is there, his father fought for France in the Algerian war, his family has been hard working in the country for years now."

Murray said that US authorities cleared Hadjarad for release three years ago saying he was "not a danger (or) threat at all."

"We have met him personally, he is sweet, he is gentle, he is a kind man and even his guards in Guantanamo have gone on record to say that he is a very kind person," she said.

US authorities initially accused Hadjarad of being a member of Al-Qaeda and having attended a training camp, after which he spent around three weeks in a trench in Afghanistan with an assault rifle and grenades.

He was not charged or tried and in 2007 the Bush administration deemed him to be "no longer dangerous".

© 2010 AFP

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