Australia returns passport to ex-Gitmo detainee
Canberra: An Egyptian-born Australian has had his passport returned six years after his release from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay because he is no longer considered a risk to national security, intelligence officials said on Friday.
Mamdouh Habib was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001 and held as a suspected terrorist without charge before being returned from the US prison on Cuba to Australia in 2005.
Australia`s top spy agency said it had provided a "non-adverse security assessment" to Habib`s latest passport application in March.
"This was not a recanting of its previous assessment, but rather a new assessment based on new information, circumstances and factors relevant to the issue of whether Mr Habib currently poses a risk to Australia`s security," the Australian Security Intelligence Organization said.
The statement it released Friday did not give specifics about the case.
Habib had reached an out-of-court settlement with the government last year for an undisclosed sum over his allegations that the Australian government was complicit in the torture he says he suffered while in detention.
He was detained in Pakistan for 28 days after his arrest and interrogated by Americans. He was transferred to Egypt, then six months later to the US military base at Bagram, Afghanistan, and then to Guantanamo Bay.
Habib has alleged he was beaten and given electric shocks by his captors while he was in Pakistan and Egypt, kept drugged and shackled, had his fingers broken, and was sexually molested. He said Australian officials were present during parts of his ordeal.
He sued the Australian government for what he said was its failure to uphold his rights as a citizen during his detention.
Habib, a Sydney resident, said Friday he was satisfied that his court case and now is legal quest to regain a passport had both ended.
"I have received money, I have received a passport, I have received everything — my dignity back," Habib said.
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