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Judge orders release of Yemeni who allegedly hid with bin Laden

Guantanamo prisoner sought asylum in US

By Nedra Pickler and Devlin Barrett
Associated Press / April 1, 2009
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WASHINGTON - A federal judge yesterday ordered the United States to release a prisoner from the Guantanamo detention center who is accused of hiding out with Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

US District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle issued a one-page judgment ordering the release of Yasin Muhammed Basardh, a 33-year-old from Yemen. The judge didn't say why Basardh should be let go, but she said it was explained during a closed hearing in her courtroom earlier in the day.

According to charges filed by the military in 2004, Basardh is a member of the Taliban who trained at a terror camp in Afghanistan that bin Laden visited. The government alleged Basardh fought against the United States or its coalition partners, and fled to the Tora Bora region in November 2001, where he stayed in a cave with bin Laden. He later left for Pakistan and was captured by the Pakistani military, according to the government.

Basardh told US officials that before going to Afghanistan he spent time in Saudi Arabian jails for dealing drugs. He said other drug dealers who had repented persuaded him to train for jihad in Afghanistan.

Basardh filed a habeas corpus petition challenging his detention four years ago. Justice Department attorneys had argued that he was an enemy combatant and therefore being legally held at the US naval base in Cuba, but the details of his case were kept classified and sealed by the court.

Basardh has requested asylum in the United States because his cooperation with US officials has led to threats on his life. He has said he gave classified information against high-level members of Al Qaeda.

"These threats against my life are continuously happening from the detainees here, from some high-ranking detainees," Basardh told a military hearing, according to a transcript. "I can't go back to my country."

But Huvelle's order specifically instructs the government to "take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps" for Basardh's release, suggesting that he may be heading to another country.

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