A Yemen national held since 2002 at the Guantanamo Bay prison was found dead in an apparent suicide, the US military said on Tuesday. He has been identified as Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, also known as Al-Hanashi.
AFP - A man from Yemen held at the US-run prison in Guantanamo for more than seven years without charge was found dead in an apparent suicide, the US military said on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old inmate was identified as Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, also known as Al-Hanashi. He had been held at Guantanamo since February 2002, US Southern Command said in a statement.
It was the fifth reported suicide at the controversial "war on terror" prison since the center opened at the remote US naval base in southeast Cuba in 2002, officials said.
"While conducting routine checks, the guards found the detainee unresponsive and not breathing," US Southern Command said.
"Medical personnel were immediately summoned by the guard force. After extensive lifesaving measures had been exhausted, the detainee was pronounced dead by a physician," it said.
The suspected suicide occurred "late Monday evening" and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service had opened an investigation to determine the cause and circumstances surrounding the death.
US Southern Command offered no other details of the incident.
A cultural adviser was providing assistance to the military to ensure the remains of the dead inmate were handled in a "religiously appropriate manner," the statement said.
After an autopsy is carried out, the remains will be repatriated to Yemen, it said.
Salih was never charged by special military tribunals set up to try top terror suspects at Guantanamo.
The US military alleged that intelligence reports indicated he had fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and that he had stayed at four guest houses associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He was captured in Mazar-e-Sharif and later transferred to Guantanamo.
About 240 detainees are held at the Guantanamo detention center, which President Barack Obama has promised to close next January.
Human rights groups have condemned the prison as a "legal black hole," citing numerous inmates who face indefinite detention without being charged in a court.
The joint military force that runs Guantanamo "continues to provide safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees," Southern Command said.
But rights activists and defense lawyers have said that many of the detainees are depressed and suicidal because they are placed under strict isolation.
The American Civil Liberties Union, an advocacy group, called for a full investigation into Salih's death.
"There must be an immediate, independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding this apparent suicide and the conditions of confinement at Guantanamo," said ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner.
Mohammed Albasha, spokesman of the embassy of Yemen in Washington, said that his country was "saddened" to learn the news.
An embassy representative was flying to Guantanamo and will work "closely with the US government" to quickly repatriate the body.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the family of the deceased," Albasha said in a statement.
"In addition, this incident demonstrates the urgency of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay."
Yemen "is looking forward to cooperate closely with the US administration to expedite President (Barack) Obama's decision to close Guantanamo," Albasha said.
Date created : 2009-06-03