A 75-year-old man from Pakistan who was the oldest prisoner in Guantanamo The detention center was released and returned to Pakistan on Saturday, the Foreign Office in Islamabad and the US Department of Defense said.

Saiful Paracha Reunified with his family after more than 17 years in custody at a US base in Cuba, the ministry added.

Paracha has been in custody on suspicion of al-Qaeda ties since 2003, but has never been charged with a crime. In May 2021, he was informed that he was allowed to be released. Along with two other men, he was released by the Prison Review Commission in November 2020.

In this undated photo, Saiful Paracha poses as a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross at Guantanamo Bay.

Miami Herald via Getty Images

As usual, the report did not provide a detailed rationale for the decision, concluding only that Paracha “is not a continuing threat” to the United States, according to Shelby Sullivan-Benis, who represented him at the hearing at the time.

In a statement Saturday, the Defense Department said the US appreciates “the willingness of Pakistan and other partners to support ongoing US efforts to responsibly reduce the prison population and ultimately close the Guantanamo Bay facility.”

In Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate Parachi’s repatriation.

“We are glad that the Pakistani citizen detained abroad has finally been reunited with his family,” the ministry said.

Paracha, who lived in the US and owned real estate in New York, was a wealthy businessman in Pakistan. Authorities allege he was an al Qaeda “facilitator” who helped two plotters in the 9/11 plot with a financial transaction.

He claimed he did not know it was al-Qaeda and denied any involvement in terrorism.

The US captured Paracha in Thailand in 2003 and held him at Guantanamo Bay since September 2004. Washington has long argued that it can hold detainees indefinitely without charge under international laws of war.

In November 2020, Paracha, who suffers from a number of medical conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, appeared for the eighth time before the review commission, which was created under President Barack Obama to try to prevent the release of prisoners who authorities believe may be involved in hostilities against the US after their release from Guantanamo Bay.

At the time, his attorney, Sullivan-Benis, said she was more optimistic about his prospects because of the election of President Joe Biden, Parachi’s ill health and the development of a court case involving his son, Uzair Parachi.

The son was convicted in 2005 in federal court in New York of supporting terrorism, based in part on the testimony of the same Guantanamo Bay witnesses the US relied on to justify his father’s detention.

In March 2020, after a judge dismissed these witness statements and the US government decided not to seek a new trial, Paracha Jr. was released and sent back to Pakistan.

In its statement on the elder Parachi’s repatriation, the Defense Department said that as of Saturday, 35 detainees remained at Guantanamo, and that 20 of them were eligible for transfer.

Five inmates charged in the 9/11 attacks are negotiating potential plea deals that could overturn the death penalty and keep a camp at a Cuban military base open for the foreseeable future. CBS News reported last month. The possible plea deal has angered the families of some of the victims, who said they want justice, not closure.

The number of detainees at Guantanamo, however, has dwindled in recent months as several have been transferred to other facilities. In March Mohammad Mani Ahmad al-KahtanI, who was associated with 9/11, was sent to Saudi Arabia, and the following month Sufiyan Barkhumi, who was accused of extremist activities, was repatriated to Algeria after almost 20 years in detention. This was determined by the control commission in July Khalid Ahmed Qasimknown as one of the “eternal prisoners” of Guantanamo, is to be released to an unspecified country.