Algeria court acquits two ex-Guantanamo detainees

ALGIERS (Reuters) – Two men who had been held for seven years in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay on suspicion of belonging to an extremist group were acquitted in an Algerian court on Sunday, state media reported.

The two men alleged during their trial in Algeria on terrorism charges that they were “brutally tortured” while in detention in Guantanamo Bay, Algeria’s official APS news agency cited court documents as saying.

The men were arrested in Pakistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and transferred to Guantanamo Bay where they were held without trial before being sent home to Algeria last year, the agency reported.

The court in Algiers rejected prosecution arguments the two men, named as Faghoul Abdelli and Mohamed Terari, were members of a terrorist group and acquitted them, the agency said.

The United States set up the prison at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, after the September 11 attacks to detain terrorism suspects. Human rights activists say the detentions are in violation of international law.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said the prison will be closed by January 22, 2010, although his officials have since acknowledged it will be difficult to meet that deadline.

Twelve Algerian citizens remain in the prison, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S. non-governmental group that has represented many of the detainees seeking release.

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