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Released Algerian Guantanamo detainee wants to return to France

Inside the US's Guantanamo Bay detention camp
Inside the US's Guantanamo Bay detention camp Reuters/Bob Strong/Files
2 min

An Algerian man freed from Guantanamo Bay after 12 years in detention wants to return to France, where he spent most of his childhood, his lawyers say. Nabil Hadjarab, 34, was freed arrived in Algiers on Thursday along with Ahmed Sayyab, 36, in the follow-up to Algeria's 2008 agreement to receive 17 nationals held in the US prison in Cuba.

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Hadjarab's supporters hope that his repatriation to Algeria is "just a first step" to a return to France, lawyer Sylvain Cormier tod the AFP news agency.

Both men had joined a hunger strike by the majority of the 164 detainees still in Guantanamo and their transfers were the first in almost a year.

More than half of them have been cleared for release and face no charges in the US but remain there because of conditions placed on their transfer elsewhere.

Hadjarab was told that he had been cleared for release in 2007.

"What's so terrrible is that he has spent 11 years in detention for nothing and six years waiting to be freed knowing he had been cleared," said Cormier.

Apart from a brief spell in Algeria when he was a teenager, Hadjarab spent most of his childhood in foster care near the southern French city of Lyon.

He is only member of his family who does not have French nationality.

His lawyers say that he is a "total foreigner" in Algeria and "hardly speaks Algerian Arabic".

"Let's hope that the French authorities live up to their responsibilities," another of his lawyers, Joseph Breham said on Friday.

According to American author John Grisham, who took up his case, Hadjarab was sold to the US for a bounty and tortured in a Kabul jail before being transferred to Guantanamo.

Obama, who promised to close Guantanamo during his first election campaign, launched a new bid to shut it three months ago, saying it was harmful to US interests.

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