KUWAIT CITY, AP -Five Kuwaitis freed from U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay were released on bail on Sunday in Kuwait after denying that they had joined al-Qaida, collected “donations” for it or fought with the Taliban.
The men returned from the Cuban detention center in November. Kuwaiti prosecutors allege they have endangered their country’s “political standing” and its ties with friendly nations.
They were released on the equivalent of $1,720 bail.
“God willing, (the release) was a good start,” Mubarak al-Shimmiri, their lawyer, told The Associated Press.
Four of the men were accused of joining al-Qaida, and one of fighting alongside Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime. Three of the five face charges of working for an Afghan charity the U.S. military says helped finance al-Qaida.
The men face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Another Kuwaiti ex-Guantanamo prisoner who returned in January 2005 was initially acquitted of terror-related charges, but an appeals tribunal overturned the acquittal and sentenced him to five years in prison.
Six Kuwaitis are still held in Guantanamo.
The families of these prisoners say their sons went to Afghanistan to help fellow Muslims who had suffered in the country’s long civil war. They deny that their loved ones carried arms.
Kuwait has been a major U.S. ally since the American-led 1991 Gulf War that liberated it from a seven-month Iraqi occupation.
But some Muslim fundamentalist Kuwaitis oppose the U.S. military presence in the country. Militants have attacked Americans in Kuwait several times since 2002, killing one U.S. Marine and a civilian contractor.