The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it has dropped terror charges against five men being detained at Guantanamo Bay, even as the prosecutor pledged the filing of new charges soon.
The development followed the resignation of a case prosecutor, Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who had said some evidence helpful to the case of a sixth man, a young Afghan, might never surface.
Those whose charges were dropped: Binyam Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian-born former British resident; Sufiyan Barhoumi, 35, an Algerian; Saudis Ghassan Sharbi, 33, and Jubran Qahtani, 31; and Noor Uthman Muhammed, of Sudan.
Mohamed's case has gained some attention in London because he claims the U.S. sent him to Morocco for interrogation and torture. Sharbi's case has drawn interest because he had an engineering degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona.
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On Tuesday, even before the announcement was released on the Defense Department Web site, the chief war crimes prosecutor, Col. Lawrence Morris, said he had supported the move to give time for new charges and a new analysis of the case against five men accused of conspiring with al-Qaida and providing material support for terror.
Four of the five were captured in a U.S.-Pakistani raid in March 2002 at an alleged al-Qaida safe house – at the same time as alleged arch-terrorist Abu Zubaydah.
The CIA separated Abu Zubaydah from the others and, CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden has revealed, subjected him to harsh interrogation techniques authorized by President Bush. He has never been charged.
Only one man has been convicted of being a terrorist at a Guantanamo trial – Osama bin Laden's driver. And military jurors gave the convict, Salim Hamdan, 40, of Yemen, time served plus imprisonment for the remainder of 2008.