A U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan and held without charges since late 2001 as an enemy combatant is scheduled to be released Tuesday and flown to Saudi Arabia, where he grew up, his attorney said.
The man, Yaser Esam Hamdi, whose case led to a Supreme Court decision limiting the president’s powers to indefinitely hold wartime combatants, will not be charged with any crime under an agreement with federal officials that was made public Monday.
The agreement requires Hamdi to give up his U.S. citizenship, renounce terrorism and not sue the U.S. government over his captivity. Justice Department officials would not comment beyond the agreement.
“I believe he’s just hours away from being put on a plane and being sent home,” said his attorney, Frank Dunham Jr. “The ball goes through the hoop when the ball goes through the hoop.”
Dunham said that Hamdi had been set to leave Sunday on a military plane but that the flight was canceled in part because of Hurricane Jeanne.
Justice Department officials said they did not have immediate information on when Hamdi would be released, but Dunham said the flight was rescheduled for Tuesday.
Born in Louisiana
Hamdi, who was born in Louisiana in 1980 to Saudi parents, was captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan in late 2001 during the fight against the Taliban regime.
He contends that he never fought against the United States and that he had been trying to get out of Afghanistan when he was captured.
Under the four-page agreement, which was filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Hamdi agreed to notify Saudi officials if he became aware of “any planned or executed acts of terrorism.”
In return, the Justice Department agreed not to ask the Saudi government to detain Hamdi any further. Officials have said Hamdi no longer poses a threat to the United States and no longer has intelligence value.
Hamdi agreed to live in Saudi Arabia for five years and not travel outside the country during that time. For 15 years, he must alert the U.S. Embassy before traveling outside Saudi Arabia, and he must never travel to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan or Syria.
Hamdi also agreed not to travel to the United States for 10 years. After that, he must get permission from the U.S. secretaries for defense and homeland security.
After his capture, Hamdi was taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then transferred to a Navy brig in Norfolk when officials realized he was a U.S. citizen. He is being held in solitary confinement in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C.
The Supreme Court ruled in June that Hamdi and others like him could not be held indefinitely without seeing a lawyer and getting a chance to contest their incarceration in court. That led to the negotiations for Hamdi’s release.