German-Born Guantanamo Inmate Back in Germany | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 25.08.2006

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German-Born Guantanamo Inmate Back in Germany

After over four of imprisonment at the US detention center for terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Murat Kurnaz -- a Turkish citizen born in Germany -- has returned to his family in the city of Bremen.

Kurnaz's release follows months of negotiations between Washington and Berlin

Kurnaz's release follows months of negotiations between Washington and Berlin

The special US Air Force plane carrying Kurnaz landed Thursday evening at the US air base in Ramstein, western Germany. He was handed over to German authorities, who then released him.

Bernhard Docke, Anwalt des Bremer Taliban Murat Kurnaz Porträtfoto

Bernhard Docke said his client would have a private family reunion

"Finally after four and three-quarter years of martyrdom, of torture, and deprivation of rights, the news has arrived -- Mr. Kurnaz is free," his German lawyer, Bernhard Docke, said.

Docke said he would brief the media on Friday in Kurnaz's hometown of Bremen in northern Germany. Kurnaz will not attend as he is with his family and needs time to adjust to his freedom, he said.

"He will undergo medical treatment and will not be appearing in public," Docke said. "Mr Kurnaz has been through hell."

Earlier, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said an agreement on the release of Kurnaz had come after the successful conclusion of long negotiations between the US and German governments.

No proof of terrorist activity

Kurnaz, dubbed the "Bremen Taliban" after the northern German city where he lived, was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001, and taken to Guantanamo Bay in 2002 on suspicion of having fought for al Qaeda.

Taliban Gefangene in Guantanamo

Allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay have prompted widespread protest from human rights organizations

A US court found allegations of Kurnaz's involvement in terrorist activities to be untrue. His release follows months of talks between the US and German governments. Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly brought up the issue when she met with President George W. Bush in Stralsund last month. Kurnaz said he suffered abuse including sexual humiliation, water torture and the desecration of Islam at Guantanamo.

According to reports in Der Spiegel, Berlin has refused US requests that Kurnaz be put under constant surveillance and his passport confiscated. However, he will not be free to completely return to his old life. Prosecutors in Bremen intend to investigate Kurnaz on suspicion of involvement in a criminal network.

Experts close to the case say Kurnaz's detention at Guantanamo was unlawful.

US and German intelligence concluded as early as 2002 that

Kurnaz had no connection to al Qaeda, the Taliban or any terrorist threat, said Baher Azmy, a Seton Hall Law School professor who has represented Kurnaz since mid-2004.

"The government's evidence against Kurnaz has ranged from

incredibly tangential to at times preposterous," Azmy said in a statement.

"Kurnaz's case lays to shameful waste the government's repeated assertions that Guantanamo houses only hardened terrorists or persons captured on the battlefield," Azmy said.

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