Two Pakistanis leave Guantanamo after 20 yrs without charges

US officials returned two Pakistani brothers to their home country Thursday after holding them two decades without charges at the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Abdul and Mohammed Rabbani were the latest detainees to be released from US custody as the US moves toward emptying and shutting down the prison. The George W. Bush administration set it up at a naval base in Cuba for extremist suspects rounded up after the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida attacks on the United States. The two brothers were originally transferred to US custody after Pakistani officials arrested them in their home city of Karachi in 2002. US officials accused the two of helping al-Qaida members with housing and other lower-level logistical support. The brothers alleged torture while in CIA custody before being transferred to Guantanamo. US military records describe the two as providing little intelligence of value or recanting statements made during interrogations on the grounds they were obtained by physical abuse. The US military announced their repatriation in a statement. It gave no immediate information on any conditions set by Pakistan regarding their return there. “The US appreciates the willingness of the Government of Pakistan and other partners to support ongoing US efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility,” the Defense Department said. Guantanamo at its peak in 2003 held about 600 people whom the US considered terrorists. Supporters of using the detention facility for such figures contend it prevented attacks. Critics say the military detention and courts subverted human rights and constitutional rights and undermined the United States’ standing abroad.