KUWAIT CITY – Two Kuwaitis released from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay returned on Friday to their homeland, where their lawyer said they would face trials on terrorism-related charges.
The U.S. military said an administrative review board had recommended the two men be transferred back to Kuwait from the prison in southeastern Cuba, where the U.S. now holds about 455 men on suspicion of links to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
Two two men, Omar Rajab Amin, 41, and Abdullah Kamel al-Kundari, 32, who had been held at Guantanamo for four years, arrived at an airport in Kuwait early Friday, said Khaled al-Odah, who heads the Kuwaiti Family Committee, an advocacy group for men held at the prison.
They were taken to a hospital for a medical examination and to meet with their families.
"They are very skinny and exhausted, but they looked OK," al-Odah said. "They are very happy, but worried at the same time."
Both men had been held at Guantanamo since January 2002, but had not been charged with any crimes. The military said that they had ties to charities with links to terror groups and that their names had been found on the hard drive of a computer seized from a suspected Al Qaeda member, according to their attorney, David Cynamon, and military documents.
Cynamon said the two men had only traveled to Afghanistan to help refugees from the country's civil war and have no connection to any terror groups.
The lawyer predicted they would be cleared by the courts in their country — as were five other Kuwaitis previously released from Guantanamo.
Another Kuwaiti released from Guantanamo was acquitted of terror-related charges, but an appeals tribunal overturned the acquittal and sentenced him to five years in prison.
Al-Kundari was a former member of Kuwait's national volleyball team who before his arrest worked as an engineer for the Ministry of Water and Electricity, according to U.S. documents previously released to The Associated Press.
He told a military panel that he considered Al Qaeda a "vicious" terrorist group, according to transcripts.
Amin, who attended college in Nebraska, was accused by the military of being a terrorist financier, which he denied. He told the panel he had never fought against U.S. forces and only wanted to return home to be with his family, according to the transcripts.
The U.S. said authorities have determined that about 130 of the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo are eligible for release or transfer but the timing will depend on negotiations with their home countries.