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Pakistani Militant Returns Home

October 28, 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ A Pakistani Islamic militant who was held at the U.S. military’s prison in Cuba returned home Sunday after being freed by American authorities, an Interior Ministry official said.

``Our citizen has arrived from Guantanamo Bay,″ Tasneem Noorani, a top official of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press.

The released prisoner was identified as Mohammed Saghir, 60, from North Western Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan. He had been moved to Cuba by U.S. officials and held for months after his arrest in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban.

``We will hold him for some time to debrief him,″ Noorani said.

U.S. officials allowed him to go on the recommendation of a Pakistani government delegation, which cleared him on the basis of interviews with him and 57 other Pakistanis conducted at Guantanamo two months ago.

The remaining 57 Pakistanis are still being held at Guantanamo Bay. ``We are in touch with the U.S. officials for the release of the remaining Pakistanis,″ Noorani said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said the prisoners are being checked to make sure they are not candidates for prosecution, hold no intelligence value and are not a threat to the United States and its allies.

According to the Foreign Ministry, all Pakistanis detained at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are innocent and none of them is linked to al-Qaida.

Pakistan is a key supporter of the U.S.-led coalition forces in the war against terrorism, and coalition forces are still using the country’s facilities to track down remnants of hardline Taliban and al-Qaida.

But thousands of Islamic militants from Pakistan crossed into Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks to fight against U.S.-led coalition forces.

The United States is holding 597 men from 42 countries, calling them enemy combatants and saying it may legally hold them until the end of hostilities.

Update hourly