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Pentagon drops charges against Kuwaiti captive at Guantanamo

By Carol Rosenberg, McClatchy Newspapers –

MIAMI — The Pentagon on Friday abruptly dropped nearly four-year-old charges against a Kuwaiti captive at Guantanamo, on the same day the Kuwaiti ambassador disclosed ongoing talks for release of the oil nation’s last two citizens held at the prison camps in Cuba.

In the case of Fayiz al Kandari, 37, military commissions officials noted that a senior Pentagon official, retired Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, dismissed the Bush-era charges “without prejudice,” meaning the Pentagon could once again charge the Kuwaiti with war crimes.

The dismissed charge sheet alleged that Kandari trained with al-Qaida, served as an adviser to Osama bin Laden and also produced al-Qaida tapes that recruited men to jihad.

His military defense lawyer had said that Kandari was a Muslim in Afghanistan at the wrong time and the military has built a case based on vague allegations and triple hearsay.

His family has said he went as a student to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to volunteer as a charity worker.

The Pentagon would not provide an explanation for the timing. A Pentagon prosecutor swore out the charges in October 2008, but Kandari had never been brought before the war court to face formal charges. Since then, Congress and the Obama administration amended the laws governing military commissions.

In Washington, Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem al Jaber al Sabah told the official news agency KUNA on Friday that a delegation dispatched by the emir was engaged in talks with U.S. officials for the release of Kandari and a second citizen held at Guantanamo, Fawzi al Odah, 35. As of Friday, the Pentagon held 169 captives at Guantanamo.

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