Missing Former Gitmo Prisoner Resurfaces

He doesn't want to go back to Uruguay
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 28, 2016 2:08 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2016 3:03 AM CDT
In this June 5, 2015 photo, Abu Wa'el Dhiab, from Syria, right, and Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi, of Tunisia, look out the window of their shared home in Montevideo, Uruguay.    (Matilde Campodonico)
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(Newser) – A resettled former Guantanamo prisoner who disappeared last month in Uruguay, setting off alarm bells in neighboring countries and recriminations in Washington, has reappeared in Venezuela, the Uruguayan government says. Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa tells the AP that Syrian native Abu Wa'el Dhiab showed up at Uruguay's consulate in Caracas. The ministry said in a statement that Dhiab told the consulate that he wants to move to Turkey or another country where he can reunite with his family. "He expressed clearly that in no case was he interested in returning to Uruguay, but required the assistance of our country for his proposal," the statement said. There are no charges against Dhiab, and Uruguayan officials have said he has the right to leave the country.

Dhiab, one of six former Gitmo prisoners resettled in Uruguay after being released by US authorities in 2014, previously accused the government of breaking its commitment to bring his family. He was held without charge for 12 years—five of them after he was cleared for release—and was at the center of a court battle over force-feeding hunger strikers. Jon Eisenberg, a US lawyer who represented Dhiab while he was detained at Guantanamo, says he last heard from the former prisoner in June. Eisenberg says Dhiab was very concerned about his wife and three children, who fled the Syrian civil war for Turkey but then had to return to their homeland for financial reasons. They were in a Syrian village that was bombed by government forces in November 2015. (When the former detainees first complained about life in Uruguay, then-President Jose Mujica said they wouldn't have problems if they were "humble sons of the desert.")

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