Algeria court acquits 2 former Guantanamo inmates

AP News
Posted: Nov 22, 2009 11:35 AM

An Algerian court on Sunday acquitted two former detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were returned home to face charges of links to terrorism, their defense lawyer said.

Abdelli Faghoul and Terari Mohamed had admitted in court to links with the illegal drug underworld, but denied any connection to foreign terrorist groups, defense lawyer Farid Abbache told The Associated Press.

The two men were released from Guantanamo and handed over to Algerian authorities on Aug. 15, 2008 _ nearly seven years after they were taken into custody and held without trial, the lawyer said.

The defendants traveled to Afghanistan after a decade in Germany, where they were involved in theft and the illegal drugs trade, Abbache said. Police in neighboring Pakistan arrested them after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

A state prosecutor had sought a 20-year sentence against them on charges of ties to a foreign terror group.The defendants and their lawyers had argued their innocence on the charges throughout the trial.

Sunday's verdict was reported by the state's APS news service, but not by prosecutors or the government.