Five Kuwaitis who had been held in US custody at Guantanamo Bay prison camp, including one who had been on a three-month hunger strike, returned home early on Friday.
Khaled al-Odah, who heads a private group that rallies for the release or trial of Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantanamo, said the men would be taken first to the hospital for medical check-ups before meeting with officials for questioning.
Abdul-Aziz al-Shimmiri, 32, has been on a hunger strike since Auguest 9 and was being force-fed at the Guantanamo hospital. Before the men left the prison, al-Odah said al-Shimmiri would not stop his strike until he boarded the Kuwaiti plane.
The five were recommended for the transfer by an administrative review board.
They could face criminal proceedings in Kuwait, but prefer that to remaining at Guantanamo without being charged or tried, the lead attorney, Tom Wilner, said in the United States.
Their arrival raised the number of Kuwaitis freed from the detention facility to six. Another six are still held at Guantanamo.
US forces arrested the Kuwaitis in Afghanistan or neighbouring Pakistan during the 2001 Afghanistan war following the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Kuwait has been a major ally of Washington since the US-led 1991 Gulf War that liberated it from a seven-month Iraqi occupation. But some Muslim extremists oppose the U.S. military presence here and militants have attacked Americans several times since 2002, killing one US Marine and a civilian contracted to the military.
Scores of young Kuwaitis have also fought alongside Muslim militants in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq.
The transfer brings the total of detainees sent to other governments to 73. Another 179 have been released. About 500 detainees remain held at the Guantanamo facility in Cuba.
The United States has insisted that terror suspects held at the camp are enemy combatants, not prisoners of war, and thus not entitled to the same rights afforded to POWs under the Geneva Convention.
In a report submitted on October 21 to the UN Committee Against Torture, the Bush administration sought to justify that stand, saying they were acting well within their rights in indefinitely holding the suspects.
"There is no question that under the law of armed conflict, the United States has the authority to detain persons who have engaged in unlawful belligerence until the cessation of hostilities," said the US State Department report, which was posted on its website.
Source: China Daily