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article imageAlbania refuses ex-Guantanamo Egyptian right to return home

By Katerina Nikolas     Mar 24, 2012 in World
Tirana - An Egyptian citizen is being refused the right to return home to Egypt by the Albanian authorities. After being held in Guantanamo prison for eight years, although innocent, he was sent to Albania on his release.
Balkan Insight reports that Albania is breaching both Albanian and international laws by refusing to allow Egyptian born Sherif el Mashad the right to return to his home country. El Mashad, 35, was transferred from Guantanamo, where he had been held without charge from February 2002, to Albania, in February 2010.
Albania was willing to accept a number of ex-Guantanamo prisoners who the U.S. refused entry to yet thought would be subject to persecution if returned to their home countries. Since the downfall of Mubarak the authorities in Egypt have assured Albanian authorities that el Mashad is welcome to return.
Albania's Interior Minister has failed to explain why they are refusing el Mashad the right to leave and return to his family in Egypt. The Albanian authorities have also prevented his Albanian born wife from leaving the country. Prior to his arrest in 2002 el Mashad was working successfully in his own business in Italy, and took the opportunity to visit Afghanistan in response to the invitation of a Kuwaiti businessman, to distribute humanitarian aid. According to Andy Worthington, el Mashad was caught up on false charges and arrested in Pakistan.
Monsters and Critics reported the case of el Mashad as one of 60 Guantanamo detainees who were eligible for release from the U.S. prison but had difficulty finding countries willing to accept them. They reported that Italy, his host nation, had turned a blind eye to his rendition, and was one of the EU countries which would be obliged to allow free travel within the European Union to any ex Guantanamo prisoner it received. Free travel within Europe is not granted to Albanians as the country is not part of the EU.
Katie Taylor, el Mashad's case worker from the charity Reprieve, said he "has been through so much this past decade, and his best chance of rebuilding his life is with his family in his homeland." He wants to be reunited with his mother, and has a scholarship waiting to study in Cairo.
Taylor points out how Albania is breaching the law by refusing el Mashad the right to return to Egypt noting he "has never been accused of any crime in Albania and he has been granted permission to enter Egypt by the Egyptian government. Article 13 of Albania’s Law on Foreigners says every foreign citizen is allowed to leave the country with exception of these two cases."
More about exGuantanamo, Sherif elMashad, Albania exGuantanamo, Reprieve, katie taylor
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