Former Guantanamo inmate has arrived in Estonia

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Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

On October 9 the Estonian Government decided to accept a Guantanamo prison inmate and give him an opportunity to seek asylum in Estonia. The 31-year-old Ahmed Abdul Qader arrived on Wednesday afternoon.

Ahmed Abdul Qader has spent the past 12 years in Guantanamo. He hails from Yemen.

Erkki Koort from the Ministry of the Interior told ERR's radio news that they had no intention of disclosing Qader's identity, as they believe privacy would have helped him to integrate to the society faster.

Koort said that Qader's name has become public because the US Congress has obliged the US Defense Ministry to publish the names, ethnicity and target country of each inmate who leaves Guantanamo. In regards to publicizing the photo, it was an accident made by the Americans, Koort said. "It was leaked to Internet, but he looks different today."

According to the government's press office, Qader has not been convicted of a crime, came to Estonia on his own free will, and has filed an asylum application. The Police and Border Guard Board now has six months to make a decision. During that period, the Ministry of Social Affairs will offer him support services and help him get settled in Estonia.

According to the file disclosed by the New York Times, Qader was assessed to be a member of al-Qaida terrorist organization who reportedly received training at an al-Qaida sponsored training camp, resided in al-Qaida associated guesthouses, and fought as a member of Osama Bin Laden's (UBL) 55th Arab Brigade. He was assessed to be a 'medium risk', as he may pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.

If granted asylum, Qader will receive a temporary residence permit, that will give him access to all public services and benefits. Qader will be offered a chance to take language classes and use a translator when dealing with medical and other agencies.

Qader is one of the former inmates in Guantanamo who cannot return to his home country, as it poses a risk to his safety. Estonia is supporting the goal of the US to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. People released from Guantanamo Bay often cannot return to their homelands, as it would mean a great risk to their safety.

Since 2009, 64 such inmates, whose connections to terrorist organizations were never substantiated, have been resettled in over 20 countries worldwide.

The Ministry of Social Affairs said that it rented a small apartment for Qader for two years, as they do for all people who are given international protection. He will also get a support worker, who will help him get accustomed to life outside of prison.

Editor: M. Oll, S. Tambur

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