Released Guantanamo detainee returns to Germany via Ramstein
Stars and Stripes August 26, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A Turkish citizen born in Germany and held for more than four years at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arrived at Ramstein Air Base on Thursday evening after being released by U.S. authorities, the Air Force said Friday.
Murat Kurnaz arrived at the base at 6:30 p.m. on a C-17 Globemaster III, said Petra Day, an Air Force spokeswoman at Ramstein. Kurnaz’s German lawyer said Kurnaz has returned to his family.
The U.S. military had held Kurnaz since January 2002, after he was arrested by Pakistan and was turned over to the U.S. government. He has been nicknamed the “Bremen Taliban” because he lived in the German city.
The Pentagon announced on Thursday that Kurnaz would be transferred from the prison in Cuba to Germany. A press release said he was recommended for transfer as the result of “an administrative review board process” conducted at Guantanamo.
German and American government officials reportedly have negotiated for months on the release. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that German diplomats were able to free Kurnaz by agreeing to continue monitoring the Islamist community in Germany.
A review of declassified evidence showed there was no evidence he was connected to al-Qaida, the Taliban or any other threat, The Associated Press reported. More than 18 months ago, U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that his detention was illegal and ordered his release.
Kurnaz is the 310th prisoner to have been released from Guantanamo and sent to other countries, according to the Pentagon’s release. About 450 prisoners remain at the prison, according to the Defense Department. “The United States does not desire to hold detainees for any longer than necessary,” the Pentagon said in its news release. “The department expects that there will continue to be other transfers and releases of detainees.”