Guantanamo

Afghan who faced charges at Guantanamo can now be released

An Afghan who once faced war crimes charges at Guantanamo has now been cleared for release from the U.S. base in Cuba, the government announced Friday.

The Periodic Review Board, an organization made up of various government agencies that conducts parole-style hearings for prisoners held at Guantanamo, determined it was no longer necessary to detain the man known by the single name of Obaidullah. A statement announcing the decision was posted on a Pentagon website.

The board found that "the risks that the detainee presents can be adequately mitigated," according to the three-paragraph statement.

U.S. forces captured Obaidullah during a raid in Afghanistan in July 2002 when he was about 19. They found about 20 unactivated land mines buried in a field near his home. Authorities later concluded he was part of a bomb cell linked to al-Qaida, an allegation his lawyers have denied.

He was charged in the military tribunals in September 2008 with conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, which appeals courts have said can't be charged as war crimes at Guantanamo for conduct that occurred before 2006. The government dismissed the charges in 2011 and his lawyers have been pressing for his release ever since.

Obaidullah appeared before the PRB in April, part of an Obama administration attempt to determine if some of the prisoners who have been held without charge can be released as part of the effort to close the prison in Cuba. There are 80 prisoners still held at Guantanamo, including 28 cleared for release.